Commanding General – 5th Armored Division
Date Written : November 13 1944 – US Army
Month : August 1944
Campaign : Western Europe, France
Report After Action including 85th Cavalry Recon Squadron
Killied in Action : 125
Wounded in Action : 576
Missing in Action : : 49
M-4, Armored Light Car : 5
M-8, Motorized Carrier, 75-MM HOW : 1
M-7, Motorized Carrier, 105-MM HOW : 4
M-3 & A1, Personnel Carrier H/T, : 22
M-5A1, Tank, Light, : 1
M-4 & A1 & A3, Tank 75-MM, : 46
M-4A3, Tank, 76.2-MM : 1
M-10, Trailer, Amo : 8
Truck, 1/4 Ton, 4X4 : 49
Trailer, 1 ton, Cargo : 14
Truck, 2 1/2 ton, 6×6, Cargo : 4
M-32, Vehicle, Tank Recovery : 1
On August 1 1944, the units of the Division were commanded by the following officers :
5-AD : Maj Gen Lunsford E. Oliver, 03536
CCA : Brig Gen Eugene W. Regnier, 08295
HQ&HQ Co (CCA) : Capt Carl W. Roth, 01012397
CCB : Col John T. Cole, 05256
HQ&HQ Co (CCB) : Capt Joe W. Perry, 01012397
5-AD (Artillery) : Col Douglas J. Page, 04495
HQ&HQ Co (5-ADA) : Capt Norman W. Cusick, 0466787
CCR (Reserve) : Col Glen H. Anderson, 08632
HQ&HQ Co (CCR) : Capt Larry H. Greenwood, 0128065
HQ 5-AD Div Tns : Lt Col Glen G. Dickenson, 0197385
HQ Co (5-AD Div Tns) : Capt James R. Bagwell, 01011581
MP Plat (5-AD) : Maj Alexander T. Nelsen, 335298
145-ASC (Signal) : Capt Glenn A. Welde, 0453447
85-CRS (Recon)(Mecz) : Lt Col Kent Fay, 0286301
10-TB : Lt Col William A. Hamberg, 0242156
34-TB : Lt Col Thomas B. Bartel, 022019
81-TB : Lt Col Le Roy H. Anderson, 0239452
15-AIB : Lt Col John S. Wintermute Jr, 02239
46-AIB : Maj William H. Burton, 0366028
47-AIB : Lt Col Howard E. Boyer, 0218680
47-AIB : Lt Col John B. Rosenzweig, 0246291
71-AFAB : Lt Col Israel B. Washburn, 0235367
95-AFAB : Lt Col James W. Mc Neer, 0223703
22-AECB : Lt Col Fred E. Ressegieu, 020575
75-AMB (Medical) : Lt Col Benjamin H. Bader, 0372570
5-AD – Operations Narrative
The 5-AD, assigned to the 3-A (US) and attached to XX Corps (US), landed at Utah Beach and was assembled in bivouac in the vicinity of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Normandy, France during the period 26-31 July 1944. At 0935, August 1 1944, the Division was attached to the XV Corps (US). An oral movement order was issued by the Commanding General for the Division to assemble with the Division CP in the vicinity of La Feuillie. The move started at 1800, August 1 and completed by 1000, August 2. At 1100, August 2, orders were received for the first action by the Division. The Division was given the mission to proceed south without stopping, cross the Sée River, the Sélune River, assemble south of the Sélune River, reconnoiter the vicinity of Saint-Georges-de-Livoye, the vicinity of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the vicinity of Saint-James (Carnet), then push ahead to Saint-Etienne-en-Coglès and Saint-Germain-en-Colglès, and, finally, seize the town of Fougères.
The Commanding General 5-AD issued orders to the Major Commands to drive south with all possible speed on two routes and to capture Fougères. Order of march was as follows :
East Route : CCB and CCR
West Route : CCA, Division Headquarters, Division Troops
Division Trains to remain in vicinity of Mineville
H Hour : August 2, 1430
Spearhead : 85th Cav Rcn Sq, Mecz
Upon departure from initial concentration area duffel bags and baggage were left in open storage in the vicinity of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte with a Warrant Officer and twelve men or the Band as a guard detachment and care taking detail. Latrine screens, truck tops and extra tentage were utilized to cover this baggage. In anticipation of battle casualties bags were systematically arranged to insure rapid and easy access to baggage of any individual. The march of the Division was made difficult by cross traffic of troops of the XX Corps, moving east into the First Army zone. Control was very difficult at many points. Columns were cut and held up for so long, at times, that the Division CP could not keep radio contact with the heads of the combat commands. Elements of the 85th Cav Rcn Sq made first contact with the enemy, in the vicinity of the line Saint-Ellier-du-Maine – Fougères. Enemy vehicles were pursued by C Troop patrols at 0850, and small arms fire was encountered east of this line at 0930. Five prisoners were taken. Civilian reports and reconnaissance indicated that the enemy was falling back rapidly in a disorganized retreat, without attempting to erect defenses or to establish road blocks or strong points. At 0320, August 3, a message was received from XV Corps to halt movement until further orders. Combat commands and the reconnaissance squadron were ordered to clear roads, bivouac in adjacent fields, and await orders. By this time the 85-CRS was well south and in contact with some light enemy resistance along the line :
A Troop at Les Vieuvilles
B Troop at Le Perhadier
C Troop at Malval
CCA was between Saint-Denis-de-Gastines and Ducey
CCB was between Saint-Denis-de-Gastines and the Sée River
CCR and Division Troops were in vicinity of Saint-Denis-de-Gastines
The Division was attacked at various times during the night 2-3 August by enemy air. All attacks were light.
August 2 : The 85-CRS moved into position in the vicinity of Louvigné-du-Désert. During the movement, our element received their first fire and learned two deceptions the enemy practiced. Dismounted men concealed themselves in the hedges, allowed our armored vehicles to pass, then fired on the unprotected Jeeps following. This problem was quickly solve by flushing suspected areas with machine gun fire and canister shells from our 37-MM. The second trick of the enemy was to lie in the ditches as through dead and then fire on our rear. The solution to this was for scouts to fire on all Germans whether they appeared to be dead or not. The first round usually brought the lives one on their feet and they were quickly disposed of.
August 3 : 0820, the Commanding General departed for Headquarters, Third Army and returned at 1015 with instructions for continuing the action, The division was to occupy positions in Corps reserve with the leading Combat Command at La Chapelle-Urée between roads GC 5 and GC 47, the second Combat Command at Saint-James, and the remainder of the division between the two Combat Commands. The 79th Infantry Division captured Fougères on this day.
August 3 : During the day, our elements moved to the vicinity of Fougères but were unable to obtain contact with the enemy. Civilian reports of small numbers of enemy to our front persisted but it became evident by the end of the day that enemy would not defend in strength at least until we reached Laval where is was learned that the enemy gathering his forces. A total of 13 POWs captured that day where stragglers and offered no information of an organized defensive line but did indicate position of AT guns which were to be used in a delaying action.
August 4 : 0355, CCA had the first contact with the enemy when the Service Co of the 46-AIB was fired on by enemy snipers. No casualties were suffered. At 1300, orders were received to keep Combat Commands in present positions and to move the remainder of the Division south of Sélune River; Division Trains to move to vicinity of Saint-James (Carnet); Reconnaissance to start patrol of the line Laval – Mayenne – Vitré, contact being maintained with 106-CG (Group) on right and the 90-ID on left. The reconnaissance screen moved toward the designated line encountering small scattered elements which were easily mopped up. Enemy aviation was active during daylight and evening hours, strafing columns by day when allied fighter cover was absent. 16 POW’s and 16 enemy dead were reported by the Division. Civilian reports stressed the absence of transportation with enemy straggler groups which were moving at night along roads towards Laval – Domfront. Also on August 4, a directive was received from XV Corps to furnish one hundred trucks immediately to help motorize elements of the 79-ID and the 90-ID. Assurance was given that no movement of the division would be ordered until these vehicles had returned. Fuel and lubricant trucks of the unit combat trains were dumped to provide this detail.
August 5 : 0730, orders were received from XV Corps stating that the Corps mission was to secure crossings of the Mayenne River from Laval to Mayenne. The division’s mission was to advance, echeloned to the right rear of the 79-ID, prepared to support the attack of the assaulting divisions; to extend the front to Château-Gontier or extend Corps front as far south as Angers. At 1600, units were encountering scattered roadblocks and defensive positions, covering small retreating enemy groups. Tanks and artillery were reported by civilian sources by were not encountered by our troops. The Division on this date had taken 80 POWs, identifications being : 5.Fallschirmjager-Division, 2.SS-Panzer-Division, 266.Infantry-Division, 17.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division, 91.Infantry-Division, 319.Infantry-Division and scattered service units. Bivouac areas were again strafed and bombed by enemy aircraft with some casualties.
August 5 : Leading elements pushed on through Vitré and Ernée now in close pursuit of the enemy who had taken to the roads on foot and vehicles of all kinds. Small groups of the enemy attempted to delay our movements with small arms fire, some AT Tank fire and hastily constructed road blocks but he was quickly disposed of by our fire. The German attempted and quite successfully jammed our radio communication during this period and difficulty was experienced into getting information back to higher headquarters.
August 6 : The 5-AD prepared to move, using main route Saint-James (Carnet) – Fougères – Vire. However the 100 trucks had not returned from their detail with the two infantry divisions (79-ID and 90-ID) and during the night (5-6) the 3912-QM Truck Co was attached and ordered immediately to fill trucks with gasoline at the Army Cl III (Class 3) Truck Head and join the column at Saint-James (Carnet) the next morning. Gasoline was not made available at the Truck Head in sufficient time to permit the company to carry out orders. As a result of our movement this information was not received until Division Headquarter had reached Vitre. An officer was sent back to locate the truck company and to lead the gasoline train forward. Due to delay in the loading of trucks at the Truck Head and traffic congestion at Saint-James and Fougères, these vehicles will not reach the combat elements in time to permit refueling of combat vehicles until the early morning hours of August 7. At 1430, orders were received to push forward rapidly on Le Mans by all possible routes in the Corps Zone that would not interfere with advance of the 79-ID. The advance was to be made as follows :
– CCA to cross the Mayenne River in the vicinity of Château-Gontier, to proceed east on the axis Château-Gontier – Grez-en-Bouère – Bouère – Bouessay – Chantenay-Villedieu – Chemiré-le-Gaudin – Le Mans, to stay north of Sarthe River, seize and hold Le Mans, to block all movement of enemy to the south and to the east
– CCB to cross the Mayenne River at Houssay, proceed east on the axis Villiers-Charlemagne – Meslay-du-Maine – Chevillé – Loué – Chassillé – Coulans-sur-Gée – La Milesse
– CCR to follow CCA
– Division Headquarters, Division Troops and Division Trains to following the axis of CCR
Only light enemy resistance was met and the advance was rapid. CCA attacked the town of Craon where some enemy resistance was met and the bridge was blown. CCB’s column met only light resistance and at 1900 had almost reached Houssay. CCA at 1800 had reached Laigné after by-passing a blown bridge at Craon. The Division CP was in the vicinity of Cossé-le-Vivien. By 2200 CCB was in Houssay where the bridge was taken intact and its columns were crossing at 0005 August 7. However, lack of fuel resulted in the halting and bivouacking of the column; the major position of CCB on east side of the river, Division CP on west side in the vicinity of Houssay. In the meantime, the organic fuel and lubricant trucks had been released from their detail with the 79 and 90-IDs. They returned to their old areas, picked up dumped loads and joined, their parent organizations about 0530, August 7. An additional 100,000 gallons of gasoline was moved by Third Army to Cossé-le-Vivien by trucks which arrived at 0700 on August 7.
This was moved across the Mayenne River in the vicinity of Villiers-Charlemagne where a Division Class III Dump was established under the control of the assistant Division Quartermaster. A platoon of Engineers was left as a security detachment until Civil Affairs Section could secure a sufficient number of FFIs (French Forces of the Interior) to provide adequate guard for the Dump. Communication was maintained with Division thru the SCR-399 radio of the Division Quartermaster station in the Administrative Net. Prior to crossing the Mayenne River one platoon of the attached Quartermaster Truck Company was attached to each of the three combat commands to carry a fuel reserve. This was deemed necessary due to the uncertainty of being able to maintain supply points at a reasonable distance behind an Armored Division operating on an exploitation mission deep in enemy held territory. This plan proved to be sound in subsequent operations throughout France where distances between supply points and the using elements were habitually abnormal.
August 6 : During our advance on this date, the enemy did everything possible to slow our attacking force and even delayed us for some time in the vicinity of Cossé-le-Vivien using small arms fire machine gun as well as a definitive Anti Tank defense of the town. For this, the Germans used mostly their Quad AA 20-MM, 81-MM Mortars and 75-MM PAK 43, the later being pretty effective against our light armored cars. By early evening and after several fire fights, the enemy had withdrawn the town and advance elements where in the outskirts of Laval.
August 7 : with the arrival of fuel at 0530 the units of CCB were ready to push on within a half hour. The resistance in front of CCA at Château-Gontier proved to be about one company, reinforced. The bridge was repaired and crossing started at 0700. Enemy resistance was much less at this time and by 1100 CCA was in Grez-en-Bouère. CCB was at Meslay-du-Maine. The advance of the Division continued throughout the day and night, against enemy delaying actions on both columns.
The XV Corps order for the advance from the Mayenne River to Le Mans designated a zone of advance for the 5-AD, for the 79-ID and for the 90-ID, who were to shuttle. The 5-AD, was given permission to use any routes in the Corps Zone providing the advance of the infantry divisions was not hindered. The original Division plan was for CCB to cut Northeast ahead of the 79 and the 90-IDs and bypassing on the west side of Le Mans to move to the north and the east of the city to prevent the enemy to escape. CCA was to approach the city from the south and southwest and to prevent any escape from the east and south. The 79 and 90-IDs were to attack the city from the West. However, the shuttling of the infantry troops was so rapid that it was impossible for the 5-AD to take advantage of routes other than those in its assigned zone.
Midway of this rapid advance a shuttling column of the 79-ID moved via a route which entered the 5-AD Zone and so conflicted with the advance of CCB that it was necessary to completely re-route both CCA and CCB by shifting to the south. Fortunately the road net permitted. However, this also necessitated a complete change in the tactical plan for the containment of Le Mans. The enemy was using AAA units for scattered AT positions, two Mark IV tanks were knocked out by our troops, snipers continued to annoy our columns but with little effect. A moderate number of tanks and some artillery were reported by civilians as retreating toward Laval. On this date 55 POW’s and 2 enemy killed were reported. During this period considerable difficulty was experienced by units of the 5-AD below major commands, due to the lack of operational maps. Up to this time they had been using Michelin road maps, un-gridded. No other maps were available.
August 7 1944 : On this date the Squadron made a rapid move on about 25 mile (40 KM) front to the Sarthe River line where practically all bridges were either blown or prepared for demolitions. Our units crossed the river by fords and existing bridges and advance elements reached the outskirts of Le Mans. As our element reached the city en route, the German garrison moved out to the east offering little resistance to our movement and by the end of the day, the road net from Laval to Le Mans was completely clear of German forces.
The drive north to close the Falaise Gap
(a) The mission of the Squadron was to reconnoiter routes, bridges, obstacles and demolitions along a route generally Le Mans, Bonnétable, Peray, Mamers, Sées, Courtomer, Moulins-la-Marche, and determine strength, composition and disposition of the enemy in that sector. (b) Again, the terrain and the weather favored armored action but the area is well populated by towns so situated that they could be well defended by the enemy. (c) Little information about enemy strength and disposition was known but it was felt that pressure from the south would cause him to either attempt to escape the closing of the Gap or bitterly fight to hold the Gap open for escape of all his elements. (d) French civilians continued their assistance but it had been learned that civilian reports had to be studied, weighed and collated very carefully as there was a tendency to exaggerate. (e) The Squadron commander disposed his troops on a comparatively narrow front to meet the difficulty which it was felt would be encountered if the enemy had disposed his troops so as to make strong points of the various cities and villages en route.
August 8 : reconnaissance was patrolling north and east of Le Mans along the line Bonnétable – Bouloire – Tresson – Le Mans was being used as a straggler point by the enemy, who there reorganized men into provisional units for delaying actions. Some artillery was encountered but was of little consequence. Combat aviation lessened its activities on both 7 and 8 August. Demolitions by the enemy were being carried out in Le Mans and Maigné. At 0900 the division was advancing on Le Mans with heads of columns three kilometers from their objective. CCA and CCB both crossed the Sarthe River south of the city; CCA swung in a wide arc east of and around the city and took a position north and northeast of the city from the river to the main Le Mans – Paris road; CCB took position south and southeast of the city, covering the section between CCA and a point midway to the river; CCR took position immediately south of the city covering the section between CCB and the river. The Division CP located five kilometers southeast of Le Mans. All exits from city were definitely closed by 2300. Units were instructed to make all possible preparations for a further move, possibly to north and east. Our casualties were light throughout this operation. Six enemy tanks were destroyed in various engagements east of Le Mans and enemy infantry activity had considerably increased. Enemy killed were reported for this date as 50 while POWs counted 200.
August 9, at 0400, orders were received from XV Corps to reconnoiter line Saint-Martin-des-Monts – Saint-Cosmes-en-Vairais – Courgains – Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, prepared to advance to the north and to protect the east flank of the corps. At 1940, the Division was given the mission of seizing and holding the crossings of the Sarthe River as well as of the Orne River between Sainte-Jamme-sur-Sarthe and Macé, and to reconnoiter to line Nogent-le-Rotrou – Mortagne-au-Perche – Alençon. During the consolidation in the Le Mans area normal maintenance and evacuation was accomplished and basic loads of most items were reconstituted. Diesel fuel and WP ammunition were in short supply and neared the critical point. There was some delay in providing adequate stocks of Cl I, III and V supplies at the Army dumps northeast of Le Mans but reserves carried by units proved sufficient to provide for such contingencies.
August 9 1944 : The movement of the Squadron was delayed by small but determined resistance by small arms and AT fire in the vicinity of Courcival, Nauvay and Peray but by the next morning the combined efforts of our troops and the main elements of the 5-AD which were close behind, these enemy strong points had been reduced.
August 10 : At 0300, information was received that XV Corps would attack at 0800, to seize the line Sées – Carrouges. The Division was to attack in the east Zone with 2-FAD (French Armored Division) on the left. The Division crossed the line of departure at 0800 with CCA on the left and CCR on the right, and at 1100 both columns were meeting strong armored and artillery resistance. Some 50 enemy tanks were active and several counterattacks were repulsed in securing the river crossings. Hostile elements identified were portions of 708.Infantry-Division on the left, 9.Panzer-Division in center, and 130.Panzer-Lehr-Division on the right. AT units were found at road junctions and critical points. 9 tanks and 2 armored cars were destroyed, with 84 enemy dead and 116 POW’s.
Morale of the enemy was reported by IPW Teams (Interrogation Prisoners of War) as somewhat better and greater resistance was noticed in enemy positions. Weather continued warm and dry. By 1700 all elements of CCA had pushed north of the river and the situation was more favorable in its sector. By nightfall, CCA contacted strong tank forces in vicinity of Marolles-les-Braults and CCR was in contact with the enemy in vicinity of Mamers. The enemy had been steadily withdrawing before our pressure all day. Both combat commands remained in position for the night with instructions to continue the attack at 0700, 11 August on the same objective with same axis of advance, CCA to by-pass the town of Marolles-les-Braults and CCR to by-pass Mamers. The 79-ID was to take the towns and reconnaissance was to stay forward and on the flanks. It was during this day’s action that the 5-AD experienced its first loss among battalion commanders. Lt Col John S. Wintermute, Jr, Commanding Officer of 15-AIB, an element of CCB, was seriously wounded in action and evacuated. Maj Toney Giorlando, Battalion Executive Officer, assumed command.
August 10 : Civilian reports indicated that the towns of Ecommoy, Savigné-l’Evêque, Ardenay-sur-Mérize, Ballon, Bonnétable were still occupied by enemy forces in strength but these strong points were by passed and the Squadron moved to the vicinity of Marolles-les-Braults with leading elements moving toward La-Ferté-Bernard and Mamers.
August 11 : the advance of the division was much slower due to enemy road blocks and armor. Bitter resistance was encountered at some road blocks, and the rear guard action of the enemy continued. Concentrated enemy fire from 105-MM and 150-MM artillery howitzers was reported for the first time. Advance reconnaissance had reached the southwest corner of the Forêt de Perseigne – Mamers – Bellême – Nogent-le-Rotrou – east around the Forêt de Perseigne – northeast the Forêt de Bellême – north to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe – Pervenchères – Mauves-sur-Huisne.
The Division plan contemplated that CCA should pass through the Forêt de Perseigne and directly north to the objective. Information indicated that the enemy held the Forêt (Forest) in some strength and that it was a tank trap. CCA was, therefore ordered to by pass the forest to the east and to push on to the north. Further information was received that the area was to be bombed with oil bombs on the following day, but the bombing was subsequently cancelled. At 1800, CCR’s column was at Blèves – Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe and CCA was passing to the east of Forêt de Perseigne which had the appearance of being and enemy trap, due to dense woods. The Division CP was just South of Bonnétable. The 3907th Quartermaster Truck Co was attached to the Division and generally was used in this and subsequent operations for drawing Cl II supplies from depots in the rear areas.
At 1945 orders were received giving a new objective and at 2210 the CP moved into an area four miles north of Mamers to prepare plans for new advance. The Division was given the mission of continuing on the way to Argentan, to cut all communications to north, and to help close the Argentan – Falaise Gap. The Division Artillery was ordered to have fires prepared to catch enemy trying to get out the east. CCA was to cut communications to northwest, CCR to northeast, and CCB to fill in the gap to south and east. At this time the head or CCR’s column was in contact with the enemy in vicinity Sées, and CCA was north of the Forêt de Perseigne.
August 11 : The division passed trough our elements and attacked to the north of our position. We continued to reconnoiter the city of Bellême and Mamers up to the Forêt de Perseigne but enemy defenses as well as their artillery prevented our elements from probing the enemy defenses.
August 12 : on the morning, the resistance in front of CCA was very light, CCA having turned in the direction of Sées to relieve the pressure on CCR. The town of Sées was taken by the combination of CCA – CCR at 1000 and the advance continued to the north. The Division was in vicinity of Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe at this time. The advance of the Division was held to a slow pace until noon. By afternoon the main line of contact was north of the Forêt de Bellême – Coulonges-sur-Sarthe – Saint-Victor-de-Réno up to the north of Mortrée.
The enemy continued withdrawing, attempting to evacuate troops to Bernay, Evreux and Dreux. Armored forces, appeared in greater number in an effort to stop the advance, as many as 200 tanks being reported in the general area. Tanks replaced AT fire at some roadblocks, showing more tenacious defensive tactics. Support from our Air Forces materially assisted in regaining and maintaining the rapid rate of advance. At 1445 CCR cut the railroad at Marmoullié and at 1635 was advancing on Gacé. The Division CP at this time was in the vicinity of Sées. By 1700 CCR had the railroad cut at an additional point and had road blocks out to the northwest on highway 24. The 10-TB, advancing on the town of Gacé, ran into a well defended mine field in vicinity of Nonant-le-Pin. Enemy appeared in considerable numbers, with several tanks to north and east of Gacé.
At 1900 the head of CCA was at Mortrée. By 2000 CCA was five miles south of Argentan but was unable to carry out the attack due to the lack of fuel. During the afternoon and early evening a column of a combat command of the 2nd French Armored Division blocked the supply route through Sées. Sées was some five kilometers east of the boundary between the 2nd French Armored and the 5-AD Zones. Refueling of CCA was delayed six hours by this conflicting traffic. Consequently CCA’s attack towards Argentan was not launched until just before dark and was stopped short of the town by darkness. During the night patrols did enter the town. Hostile aviation was active, strafing out columns three times during the day. Casualties of the enemy this date were : 301 Killed, 362 captured. Destroyed vehicles : 70 tanks, 88 miscellaneous motor vehicles, 2 armored cars, 7 pieces of artillery. Units identified through POWs interrogation were :
– scattered service and GHQ units
August 12 : The division attack having accomplished it’s mission, the Squadron moved north with the mission of out-posting the towns of Moulins-sur-Orne and Couterne, to determine, by active patrolling, the enemy strength in the area as well as in Gacé, Sées and l’Aigle with particular emphasis on enemy movement on that road net.
Our out posts and patrols periodically reported the enemy activity in this sector.
August 13 : at 0700, CCA resumed the attack on Argentan. It met with strong resistance and was repulsed. During the night the enemy had moved in more infantry and AT guns. 88-MM guns had been placed in concealed positions on the flanks and on the dominating ground to the north or the town. The 34-TB lost seven M-4s, and its commander Lt Col Thomas B Bartel who was seriously wounded and evacuated. Maj Glen L Foote, Executive Officer, assumed command.
At 1200 CCA was reinforced by the attachment of the 639-TDB and reconnaissance was started with a view to going around the town. At this point orders were changed and re-changed. Corps ordered that the town of Argentan be taken. After the attack was again started by CCA, this order was countermanded. Orders were also received to send a combat command up the Argentan – Falaise highway in an attempt to join the Canadians Troops in the vicinity of Falaise. This plan also was changed before it could be put into effect. The division was then ordered to follow a plan as follows :
– 2nd French Armored Division would relieve CCA at Argentan, CCA was to be put into position southwest of Argentan
– CCR which had put in additional roadblocks at Agaise to remain in position on roadblocks, being given the 15-AIB from CCB to perform this mission
– CCB to move into position just north of Sées
The necessary moves to put this plan into effect were accomplished on 13 August. The Division was ordered to perform as much maintenance as possible and get ready for further movement.
August 13 – 14 : Continued mission and from these reports G-2 estimated approximately one division reinforced was holding the sector of Courtomer – Moulins-la-Marche. This later proved to be approximately correct. (a) A portion of the enemy having escaped the Falaise – Gacé Gap, this squadron was given the mission of performing reconnaissance for the division along a route generally east to Dreux and the northeast of Mantes-la-Ville and Gassicourt so that the division could be employed in another Gap. (b) Weather and terrain continued to favor our operations. (c). The route of advance was believed to be held lightly at best by the enemy with some question of enemy in Dreux.
The drive to close the Gap at Vernon on the Seine River
August 14 : At 0500, orders were received to withdraw all patrols from Argentan and shell the town. In the gap north of the city the enemy continued to pour through under our heavy air attacks attempting to escape from the gap. The artillery concentration was begun at 0620. Orders received at 0800 to withdraw CCA from its holding mission south of the city and move it east of the railroad to the vicinity of Almenêches. This was accomplished without delay.
During the morning also, CCB repulsed a harassing attack by ten enemy tanks. At this time enemy disorganization became general throughout the entire area. Columns of various sizes, from three to fifty vehicles, were reported in all sections of the division zone as well as in the zones of other friendly divisions. The only known major unit facing us at the time of withdrawal was the 331.Infantry-Division, which was holding the north half of sector east of the Moulins-la-Marche – Planches line. Our Air Force was actively engaged in bombing and strafing. At 1030 a column of enemy foot troops and tanks was bombed between the CP of the 5-AD and the CP of the 79-ID (vicinity of Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe). Two enemy tanks were destroyed at Saint-Hilaire-sur-Risle. Enemy casualties resulting from the Division’s action were 410 POW’s, 215 killed; 1 tank and 6 motor vehicles destroyed and 3 armored cars and 16 trucks captured.
Col Gustin M Nelson, who had been serving as Executive Officer of CCA returned to his former command, Headquarters, Division Trains, taking over from Lt Col Dickenson. At 2240 our units were alerted for movement early the next moring. The Division’s new mission was to proceed east, seize line of the Seine River Meulan-en-Yvelines and Vernon. Formation: two Combat Commands abreast, CCB on the right, CCR on the left; CCA in reserve; both CCB and CCR marched in two columns. The Division Headquarters, Division Troops and Division Trains followed CCB in the right zone with CCA following CCR in the left zone.
August 15 : the enemy front line was in the vicinity of Dreux with isolated strong points in the bend formed by the junction of the Avre, Blaise and the Eure Rivers along a general line with a salient facing directly east like a spearhead. Our attacks were to be in the direction of the Eure around both sides of Dreux to the north, crossing the Avre and south, crossing the Blaise. Elements of 1.SS-Panzer-Division and 2.SS-Panzer-Division were identified near Dreux and a concentration of tanks, infantry and artillery was reported at Chartres. All regiments of 331.Infantry-Division and elements of 116.Panzer-Division reported in addition to the other two panzer divisions.
Later, that day, the 90-ID relieved the elements of the 5-AD in the Argentan – Gacé sector and the division started on its new mission. CCB moved at 1600 and CCR at 1630. During the march maintenance of radio communications was very difficult due to enemy interference and unfavorable terrain features. At numerous times the combat commanders lost contact with the heads of the columns, which made control difficult. The enemy resistance on all routes was light, consisting mostly of road blocks. These were not strongly defended, an occasional anti-tank gun being the only armament. The enemy withdrew to Dreux and east of the Eure River. 85 enemy were killed, 160 captured. Weather was good.
August 16 : at 1100, CCB had accomplished its mission, a crossing having been seized and held to the south of Dreux. Our forces found the town defended, with large forces of enemy fleeing to the east out of the town. The enemy resistance was reported to be strong tank forces and anti-tank defense. At this point the boundary between CCB and CCR was changed to give the town of Dreux to CCB. The energy line along the Avre River extended to Cloches, Houdan and Brissard along bank of the Avre from junction west to Vert-en-Drouais. Reconnaissance elements of our division were pushing east and northeast to establish a line Gassicourt – Mantes-la-Ville – Poissy. Of two enemy battalions left in Dreux one was destroyed on late afternoon, and the other retreated across the Eure pursued by our Recon Squadron.
AAA fire was active during this period and artillery fire was reported in the vicinity of Bourg l’Abbé and Dannemarie. Engineers demolished bridges across the Eure leaving only three. One company of tanks was reported vicinity of Houdan and we engaged a company across the river, damaging 7 out of 30 tanks. Hostile planes were active, 6 attacking once, and 13 at another time. 129 enemy were killed, 181 captured, and 6 motor vehicles mere destroyed. Civilian reports indicated that the German withdrawal through this area had been going on for about 7 days, SS troops earliest. The Division CP closed in bivouac this day in vicinity of Marville-Moutiers-Brûlé, having marched one hundred ten (110) kilometers. CCA, following CCR, had met some tank opposition, also heavy artillery fire, and had dropped behind. CCA was ordered to push rapidly to just north of Dreux by any routes. The town of Dreux was taken by CCB on August 16 1944 at 1745.
August 17 : by 0600, CCA was in bivouac in vicinity of Blainville, southeast of Dreux, and the assembly of the division in the area of Dreux was completed at 0830. At 1035 CCR was given the mission of securing crossings from Dreux to Luray inclusive. At 1035, the division CP received its only strafing to date. One plane only was employed and it was shot down on its first attack. At 1420, orders were received from Corps that not more than four crossings over the Eure River were desired for use of the 2-French-AD (Ezy-sur-Eure, Croth, Marcilly-sur-Eure, Montreuil), but that the Corps Commander did not want the division to become involved in a serious fight to seize these crossings.
CCR had secured a crossing at Muzy and had considerable enemy opposition in tanks, infantry and artillery. The enemy resisted stubbornly along the Eure River to allow his troops escaping from Argentan Gap to withdraw safely. Reinforcements from 17.Feld-Division arrived on CCR’s front. Small groups of tanks were reported around Houdan and Saint-Lubin-de-la-Haye. Enemy front lines were on the south bank of the Avre River in Le Mesnil-Simon thence northwest. The Recon Squadron found a line of resistance from Tilly south for about 6 miles. The 17.Feld-Division was to our North and west along the Avre River, having come from the channel coast to defend Dreux, too late to accomplish the mission. One ME-110 was shot down by CCR but little air activity was reported in the area.
An US AAF escapee reported that the enemy was moving everything out of the Department of the Somme as well as the Seine River areas. The action was carried on throughout the afternoon and at 1845, CCR reported that the bridge over the Avre could be used, but enemy opposition made it impossible to cross before dark. The CO of CCR, was ordered to hold along the river for the night. CCB had crossed the Eure River to the north by 1900. At 2030, a warning order was issued to all units for a probable move or the division on 18 August. The enemy opposition had been strong throughout the day but our losses were light in both personnel and equipment. Enemy casualties during the day were 65 killed, 44 captured, 6 tanks, 2 artillery pieces and 8 motor vehicles destroyed and 2 motor vehicles and 9 artillery pieces captured. Morale of the 17.Feld-Division was reported high by one POW, due to promises of a counteroffensive.
August 17 : Squadron moved from Crécy-Couvé to Champagne meeting enemy in Houdan and Boutigny-Prouais. Bridges across the Eure River in the vicinity of Charpont had been blown. Enemy interdicted cross roads en route with artillery and heavy mortars.
August 18 : at 0815, new orders were received. The Corps mission was to secure an objective in the vicinity of Mantes – Gassicourt. The Division was to occupy the Mantes – Gassicourt area to interdict the Seine River and roads east or the river and to protect the left flank of the Corps. Orders were issued at 1015 for movement of the division with CCB on the right, CCA on the left, CCR to protect the bridgehead at Dreux until relieved by elements of the XX Corps (7-AD), Trains to remain in vicinity of Blainville, the division CP to follow in the right zone.
CCB moved out at 1220 and CCA at 1230. Enemy resistance on this march was very light. CCA had first contact at 1800, some light machine gun resistance which was easily reduced. CCB had its first resistance at 1735 and either drove out or destroyed the opposition. At 1900 CCB combat elements had closed in assembly area. Orders were received from Corps that CCR, upon being relieved of its mission in vicinity of Dreux was to proceed to and hold high ground four kilometers east of Anet to prevent movement of enemy to east of the Eure River in that vicinity. Orders were sent to division Trains to move to vicinity Boissi early 19 August. The combat elements of CCA closed in their assembly area at 2215. The division CP bivouacked in the vicinity of Les Bossus at 2245.
August 18 : Today, the Squadron was given the mission of protecting the rear and right flank of the division during the move north toward Vernon, Gaillon, Heubebouville. The squadron Commander proposed to accomplish this mission by out posting the Eure River on the west side from Ivry-la-Bataille north and the day was spent reconnoitering and establishing suitable observation along the river.
August 19 : the enemy front was along the line Breuilpont, Villegats, Chafour-lès-Bonnières and La Haye de Béranville. Our roadblocks along this line were picking up POWs coming from scattered disorganized groups, who offered no opposition. The enemy offered slight delaying action at isolated points, such road junctions.
The 22-AEB (Engineer) column was attacked about 0100, when passing through Gilles, by 100 infantry with MG’s. The column lost 6 vehicles. CCR repulsed several counterattacks south of the Avre River, killing 100 foot troops, destroying 3 tanks and 3 75-MM PAK guns. At Les Bossus – Bréval, Troop B, 85-CRS, captured 142 POW’s from the 146.Feldersatz-Bataillon (116.Panzer-Division), without the loss of a single man. Other POW’s were captured during the night, when overrun by the advance of the combat commands. AT guns were reported in several localities in roadblocks, but little armor was reported. Hostile aviation was extremely active. 30 planes attacked CCR’s column in the morning, and other columns were attacked; planes were over our area both day and night. The division CP moved from Les Bossus to the vicinity of Cravent at 1345. CCA placed interdiction fire on Pacy-sur-Eure and surrounding roads and CCB placed fires on roads and targets or opportunity in its sector. The division Trains closed in their assembly area at 1840 completing the move of the 5-AD from the Dreux area.
At 1920 both CCA and CCB reported tanks to their front. Artillery fire dispersed those in CCA sector to the northeast. CCB reported that two enemy tanks have been knocked out in its sector others dispersing into the Forêt de Bezet (?). CCR reported that the enemy had withdrawn from the town of Anet; that enemy mortar fire was falling in the town and that the enemy had withdrawn AT guns from that area by hand. At 1800, the Commanding General ordered the Division Engineer to blow a lock on the Seine River. At 2130 the Engineer reported the lock out of commission. The Division Artillery was placing fires on known enemy assembly areas at 2100. At 2030 orders were received from Corps that a new mission was planned for the Division with probable operations early 20 August. Total enemy casualties this date was : killed 100, POWs 260; destroyed : 3 tanks, 6 motor vehicles, 1 armored car, 20 SP 105-MM guns, and 3 75-MM PAK guns destroyed. POW’s from scattered division had apparently been banded into March battalions. The units of the 17.Feld-Division predominated in POWs from regularly organized units.
August 19 : Observation of the east side of the river was good and the enemy remained on the defensive. The day was marked with exaggerated reports of enemy activity by civilians who were apparently fearful that we were not doing our job since we remained concealed.
August 20 : 0700, CCA was ordered to move north between the Eure and the Seine to block the crossing at Les Andelys and to occupy ground at Hedebouville and cut road net there. CCA started this action at 0845. At 0930 orders were issued to CCB to move north also between the Eure and the Seine and to occupy plateau south of Autheuil-Authoulliet and to cut road from there to Gaillon, the limit of its sector on the Eure to be from Ailly inclusive to Chambray inclusive, and to secure a supply route from its zone to CCA zone. CCR was ordered to move north to the vicinity of La Heunière to cut roads running between the bank of the Eure to Pacy-sur-Eure, Pacy-sur-Eure to Vernon and to secure supply routes in Division zone to CCB zone.
The limit of its sector to be along the Eure from Chambray exclusive to a point six hundred yards southeast of Pacy-sur-Eure, the town of Pacy-sur-Eure being exclusive. The 85-CRS was to reconnoiter the line Eure River from a point six hundred yards southeast of Pacy to road junction at (396583), to protect the Division Trains and to secure supply route from Trains zone to CCR zone. At 0900, CCR was attacked southeast of Anet by approximately three companies of enemy infantry with some artillery support. The attack was repulsed and the command continued on its new mission. At 1100 CCA, was moving up on the D-75 and had its first contact, some enemy machine gun fire. The opposition was cleared away and the advance continued.
At 1220, CCA had further contact with an enemy force of 15 tanks and some infantry. The enemy was engaged by artillery fire. Air support assisted CCA to resume its advance by 1300. At 1415 CCA again met strong enemy resistance from tank anti-tank and infantry elements. Losses of CCA to this time were three M-4 tanks and three attached M-10 tank destroyers. By 1620 the advance had carried only one quarter mile but by 1920 CCA was by-passing to the West in an effort to regain the D-75 in the vicinity Saint-Vincent-des-Bois, and to reach Champernard by dark. By 2055 it had reached a point two miles north of Douains and was held up by relatively strong resistance. CCA continued its attack, and at 2345 its advance guard was holding the town of La Heunière with out guards on the east-west highway north of the town. CCR, at 2000, went into bivouac in vicinity of Cravent, having had no further contact with enemy.
August 21 : today, the enemy front line extended from Saint-Pierre-d’Autils – Saint-Etienne-sous-Bailleul – Villez-sous-Bailleul to Champenard. The enemy resisted our advance with road blocks and strong points. There were still enemy forces in the Forêt de Bizy and in the vicinity Pacy-sur-Eure. The east bank of the Eure River south of Pacy was clear and the enemy was driven out of La-Chaussée-d’Ivry. AAA was reported at Bonnenières-sur-Seine and Bennecourt. Dual purpose 88-MM guns were located in the Forêt de Bizy and nearby towns, being used as AT. Enemy tanks encountered increased in number. Artillery fire also increased. Hostile aviation was limited to reconnaissance at night.
At 0845 the Corps Commander visited the Division CP and stated that the enemy was reported attempting to cross the Eure to the east between Anet and Ivry. The 85-CRS was directed to observe the road net between these two towns and to report any major movement across the river to the east. CCR was alerted to move to the south in the event of a serious threat to the Division rear and lines of communication. The Division Commander visited the front, returned to the CP and at 1100 ordered CCB to proceed as soon as possible to the Forêt de Bizy to relieve the pressure on CCA. CCB was ordered not to operate north in the vicinity of Highway D-75, so as not to interfere with the operations of CCA and not to advance north of Highway RN-181 without orders from Division. The Division Artillery ordered to furnish all available artillery support to CCA and CCB.
At 1100 CCA’s advance guard was still holding La Heunière, the main body of CCA had not yet effected a junction with it. There were still some enemy tanks and ground machine guns between the two forces. At 1100 our reconnaissance made contact with reconnaissance of XIX Corps in vicinity of Ivry. At 1600 CCB started its attack into the Forêt de Bizy with dismounted infantry and had made no contact by 1700. The Commanding General ordered CCB to continue to its objective to probe the town of Vernon, and if no serious opposition was encountered to take possession of the town, and to continue to clear out woods along the west bank of the Seine River as far to the northwest as the stream (Ruisseau de Saint-Ouen) which runs from Le Goulet southwest to La Chapelle-Réanville. At 1720 CCR was ordered to block the two main highways running east and Northeast to Pacy-sur-Eure, to be prepared to move early 22 August to clear out the Forêt de Pacy. By 1720 CCA was approaching Mercey. Some anti-tank opposition had been met and overcome at Saint-Vincent-des-Bois.
At 1800 CCB had a medium tank company skirting the southwest edge of the Forêt de Bizy proceeding to northwest. Its infantry at this time was halfway through the forest, meeting no opposition. At 1845 the advanced elements of CCB were at Mercey. At this point there had been a misunderstanding on the time of a concentration of artillery fire, and elements of CCA advanced too closely to the point of concentration. The result was six casualties including the former Executive Officer of CCA, Lt Col Scott M. Case who had been placed in command of the 46-AIB, and who was seriously wounded. At 2030 the infantry of CCB had passed through the Forêt de Bizy and were on the main highway to Vernon. Here they stopped for the night, having reported Vernon clear at 2300. By 2045 CCR had the road blocks placed, in two cases using German mine fields reinforced with out mines. At 2235 CCA had reached a point just south of Champenard, and stopped for the night, probing the town by dismounted reconnaissance. No strong enemy resistance appeared at this time.
August 21 : Our scouts began to probe the vicinity of Aigleville and Pacy-sur-Eure and found both towns occupied and the bridges around Pacy blown. The enemy did not seem disposed to fight end there were indications that he was moving out the town to the woods to the north. The Krauts fired a small amount of mortar shells at our Observation Post denying the use of one OP during the day.
August 22 : CCA resumed its attack at 0700. It reported that two Panther tanks had infiltrated into its position during the night and had knocked out three light tanks just after daylight. The infiltrating tanks were destroyed. CCB continued its advance at 0800, and at 0940, was still moving north without opposition. At 1030, CCB had made contact with light resistance. The advance continued with artillery support. At 1045 the Infantry of CCA had taken the town of Champenard and was deployed in the fields north of the town, opposed by some infantry and two Panther tanks. The fog was so dense at this point that observation of artillery fire was impossible.
The weather cleared by 1230 and at that time Air Support and artillery were used on targets in front of CCA, just north of Champernard. At 1245, CCR was taken under Corps control and ordered to dislodge the enemy from the area within the boundary Ménilles – Douains – Chaufour-lès-Bonnières – the main highway through Pacy-sur-Eure – Ménilles then to return to original position. By 1315 the right column of CCB had reached the Ruisseau-de-Saint-Ouen running southwest from Le Goulet to La Chapelle-Réanville, and was waiting to cross. It crossed behind the left column at 1335 and at 1550 was opposed by enemy anti-tank guns and dug-in infantry. At 1600 CCB was attacked from the air by ten ME-109’s, bombed and strafed. Casualties were ten wounded.
By 1700, Combat Command B had penetrated north of Champenard and was facing the Kampfgruppe Wahl-Franke, which had 30 tanks and 10 assault guns, plus 500 to 600 infantrymen. A fortified line was reported in front of them. CCB was through the Forêt de Bizy to Saint-Etienne-de-Bailleul were about 200 infantry opposed it, backed up by an estimated reserve of 200 infantry with one tank in the vicinity. CCR on the north side of the Forêt de Pacy was confronted by a Combat Team of 20 tanks and 300-400 infantry in the north half or the forest. the 85-CRS was holding a line along the the east side of the Eure River south of Pacy, facing elements of the :
scattered AAA and replacement units
The enemy had been digging in and reorganizing along the front between the Eure River and the Seine River, while task forces composed of tanks and infantry were delaying us at strong points to the north. Tank fighting was heavy in the vicinity of Champenard where enemy infantry fought from dug-in positions. All three combat commands were bombed and strafed by hostile aviation. One plane was shot down by CCR. At 2300 CCB, reported that its forward elements were just short of the objective. Four British Paratroopers, having eluded German captors, escaped to our positions. Total enemy casualties for the 24 hours period included killed 80, captured 42, tanks destroyed 7. Visibility was poor during this period.
August 23 : today, the attack was continued early. Resistance continued as the enemy strove to keep us from harassing the armor escaping between Evreux and Louviers. Small groups of infantry, anti-tank guns, and armor all stubbornly resisted our advance up the narrow neck of land bordered by the two rivers. The front line was in vicinity of Le Pipet and west of Gaillon. Progress was still slow though enemy resistance did not appear as strong as the night before, at 1030, the control of CCR was released by Corps. CCR was given orders to move to an area west of La Heunière and to proceed along the east bank of the Eure River to clear out the woods on the division left flank as far as the road between Chambray and Sainte-Colombe-près-Vernon.
Upon reaching the road it was to establish liaison with CCA and if the situation permitted to proceed northwest to the main highway running northeast from Autheil-Authouillet. Upon reaching the highway it was to request instructions from division. CCR was also to maintain liaison with the 30-ID to our left. The Division Commander directed CCB to form Task Force 15 under the CO of 15-AIB consisting of the 15-AIB less one company, with one platoon of light tanks, and one platoon of Tank Destroyers attached. This force was to proceed from its position in vicinity Saint-Pierre-de-Bailleul in the direction of Gaillon, to clean out woods between present location and Gaillon, as far as the main road leading southwest from the town. At this point, Task Force 15 would pass to the control of CCA until CCB reached its objective, at which time the task force would be returned to control of CCB.
The remainder of CCB was to clear out the dug-in enemy position reported to its front. The 744.Infantry-Regiment (711.ID) as well as elements of 17.Feld-Division and Kampfgruppe Wahl-Franke continued to oppose us. No artillery or aviation was reported. CCR moved on its mission at 1130 and by 1630 the combat elements had reached the objective. They reported the area clear of enemy by 1700 and contact made with friendly troops in Autheuil-Authouillet at 1800. The only enemy contact reported on this mission was fifteen enemy at Chambray, all killed by Troop D, 85-CRS. CCB’s Task Force 15 moved at 1250, and at 1620 had reached its objective astride the highway southwest of Gaillon. No enemy resistance was met during the advance. CCA’s progress, though slow, was steady. Artillery fires placed on the town of Ailly at 1200 and a heavy concentration was requested for 1600. The advance continued until 1700 at which time elements were in contact with enemy at Les Quaizes, Ailly, Gournay.
The enemy was estimated to be one enemy infantry battalion reinforced with some tanks. Liaison had been established with Task Force 15 which was being moved up on the right. At 1450 the 85-CRS was relieved of its mission of securing the left flank of the division and moved to reconnoiter and secure the right flank. Our infantry grenaded enemy positions in wheat fields under shooks of wheat with great success. Four out of nine tanks which opposed CCA near Champenard were destroyed. The Cavalry reported that the Krauts returned to the town of Aigleville on the night of August 22 after we had passed through, killing 21 civilians. Citizens of Vernon were afraid of the same situation. German outposts were visible across the Seine River from Vernon, and enemy troops crossed by a footbridge, which was still usable, when American patrols were not present. Enemy losses during this day were : Killed 295, captured 35; vehicles destroyed : 15 tanks, 1 anti-tank gun, and 1 mortar,. USAAF destroyed 50 to 60 vehicles vicinity Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf. Visibility was bad; weather dull.
August 24 : CCA continued the attack early in the morning. Observation was very poor due to fog. At 0855, CCA was preparing to attack the town of Gruchet, Gourney, Fontaine-Heudebourg, Fontaine-Bellenger, Ingremare and Hedebouville in order. The artillery preparation was being fired at that time. The Division CP was now located one and one half kilometers northeast of Champenard. The Division Commander received oral instruction from Corps to move one Combat Command to the vicinity of Montainville to clean out area west of the Mauldre River north of Beynes and to coordinate action with 106th Cavalry Group (Mecz) and the remainder of the division to assemble and move on Corps order to assembly area south of Mantes – Gassicourt to be ready to cross the Seine River. This combat command mission as given to CCR : so, CCR, 95-AFAB attached, moved at 1330 and at 1600 had reached Bréval.
At 1800 it made contact with 106th Cavalry Group east of Arnouville-lès-Mantes. Orders were received by CCR, direct from Corps, to cross the Seine and clear out a pocket on the other side of the river; to reconnoiter to Poissy but not to cross east of the Mauldre except on Corps order. Then Combat Command was assembled for the night. CCA continued its attack through the day in heavy rain and mud which hampered movements of all types of vehicles. By 1800 it was about one half mile south of Heudebouville, with an artillery concentration being fired on the town. The 85-CRS moved to oppose a reported infantry regiment observed along the east bank of Eure in the vicinity of Pacy. Strong fortified positions were reported along reverse slope area on both sides of the river in vicinity of Muids. Air reconnaissance was active during the night.
Mine fields were reported in vicinity of Vernon on the east bank of the Seine. At 1620, information was received that XV Corps had been attached to the First US Army at 0600. At 1800, orders received to move the Division to the Mantes – Gassicourt area, the 85-CRS to be left to screen Heubedouville – Gaillon and the road net northwest of Vernon. The Squadron was to be relieved by 1800, 25 August, by the 113th Cav Group. The division, less 85-CRS, was ordered to the south of the line Bonnières-sur-Seine – Pacy-sur-Eure by 0800, 25 August. The march was started at 1950, (24 August) by the Division Headquarters followed by Division Troops and CCB. CCA had released Task Force 15 at 1735 and at 2100 broke contact. Reconnaissance screening the withdrawal. At that time the enemy had been driven from Heubedouville and was retreating north. CCB likewise withdrew, and CCR continued its corps mission east of Mauldre River reconnoitering area Thiverval-Grignon, Davron, and Orgeval. CCR encountered heavy 88-MM fire at Les-Clayes-sous-Bois, and a short contact was made by 121st Cavalry Group, working with it, with a force or about 400 Germans. A transport plane was captured intact with other air corps equipment near Thiverval. 126 Germans were killed, 57 captured; 5 tanks, 3 armored cars, 11 cannon and 1 motor vehicle destroyed by Division during the day.
August 24 – 25 : The Squadron moved northeast across the Eure River then to the north to replace division in the saillent of the Seine River, in the vicinity of Vernon, Heubedouville and Gaillon with the mission of covering the withdrawal of the division and out-posting this area. The three mentioned towns were out-posted and the Krauts remained inactive during the period of our occupancy. The 85-CRS was relieved August 26.
August 25 : At 0045, the Division CP was in the vicinity of Boinvilliers. By 0125 all elements except the Recon Squadron were below the indicated line. CCR continued its Corps mission, reconnoitering along the west bank of the Seine from Villennes-sur-Seine to Les Mureaux. The latter town was found clear. Infiltration by elements of 6.Sichereit-Regiment and the 3.Flak-Sturm-Regiment ‘Paris’ was attempted in area Orgeval and in the Seine River vicinity Les Alluets-le-Roi, Villennes-sur-Seine, north to the Bois de Verneuil, and Les Mureaux.
CCR received orders direct from Corps for an attack early 25 August in direction of Crèspières, Orgeval and Vernouillet. CCR at the time was in position just west of La Couperie. It crossed the river at Beynes at 0900 and attacked at 1200, encountering enemy bicycle troops north of Davron. Clearing the woods in the area was a slow process and the advance was carried slowly to the hill line extending northwest of Feucherolles. By 1800 combat elements were moving on the town of Morainvilliers, disposed to move through Marsinval and Vernoulliet and swing left for a crossing of the Mauldre River. CCA, at 1930, was closed in new assembly positions in the Mantes – Gassicourt area. CCR reverted to division control at 1500. At 2015 CCR had reached the line Marsinval – Chapet and had sent strong patrols into Les Mureaux and Verneuil-sur-Seine, to rally for the night east of Orgeval between Chapet and Morainvilliers. At 1500 the Division Commander had received orders to be prepared to advance one combat command across the Seine River in vicinity of Meulan-en-Yvelines. CCB was alerted for this mission.
August 26 : CCR continued mission and at 0850 was driving enemy out of the woods in the vicinity of Verneuil-sur-Seine and Les Mureaux. It moved west through Ecquevilly, Flins-sur-Seine and Epone at 1230, having cleared the entire area. At 1330, the 85-CRS was relieved of its Corps mission and immediately started to move to its assembly area with the remainder of division. Its commanding officer reported that the Squadron had been strafed by enemy aircraft and that hostile air reconnaissance had been active early in the morning. At 1430 all orders with reference to an attack across the Seine River by the 5-AD were cancelled. The Division would instead assist the attack of infantry division of the Corps by artillery fire from positions south of the Seine, reconnoiter routes to the vicinity of Saint-Cyr-en-Arthies, and be prepared to move to that vicinity on order of First Army through XV Corps.
When released by XV Corps the Division would be assigned to V Corps. By 1500 CCR had completed its mission and had outposted the river line from Meulan-en-Yvelines and Poissy. The outpost was necessary due to the return of the enemy to areas which had been cleared earlier. On this date numerous civilian reports were received of fortifications in the Paris area, Germans were also reported fleeing towards the frontiers, via Corny, Gisors, Beauvais, Amiens. The Division reported this date 90 enemy killed, 30 captured, 13 guns were destroyed : 9 88-MM and 4 105-MM. 40 bicycles were also destroyed. Among POW’s were some from 3.Flaksturmregiment “Paris”, made up of civilian workers in Paris who had been given uniforms, rifles and a few days training, and from the 6.Sichereitregiment which was originally used to guard military installations around Paris but had recently bean sent out as infantry, There were 100 men per company, of ages between 38 and 45 years.
August 26 – 29 : From August 26 to August 29, the Squadron was in the vicinity of Guerville for rest and refits. On the 29, the Squadron moved to Saint-Cloud in the outskirts of Paris and prepared for new missions.
August 27 : CCR reported that the enemy was withdrawing further to the east and Military Intelligence reported troops massing in the vicinity of Pontoise. Some artillery and mortar fire was received vicinity Meulan-en-Yvelines. 7 training planes were discovered and destroyed by CCR in the Bois de Verneuil. Some marked with swastikas, others with British insignia. A report from CCB stated that the sector along the Seine had been active with enemy all day, that the enemy had considerable installations around Meulan and to the east and also in the Poissy loop of the river.
Artillery was used on all known targets. Air support was used on the town of Maurecourt against a reported concentration of enemy motorized infantry, and the Château de Villette (Condécourt), reported to contain an enemy headquarters. The general movement of the enemy had been to the east along the north bank of the Seine and it was reported that AT guns, mortars and machine guns were being installed in considerable numbers, All day the Division Artillery supported the 79-ID and the 30-ID in their bridgehead across the Seine, firing on enemy retreating in direction of the river in Meulan. The enemy units opposing the 79 and 30-IDs were from left to right :
– some Fallschirmjäger troops
At 2230 the Division Artillery was relieved of its mission of supporting XV Corps and the Division was released from attachment to XV Corps and attached to V Corps. 48 POWs were taken this date : 4 105-MM guns were destroyed; two warehouses in MAREUX were captured, with an estimated two million dollars worth of Felddivision equipment. During the period August 25/30, the Division utilized all available time for heavy maintenance, for which this was the first opportunity. Needed tank parts, engines, tracks and replacement vehicles were received and vehicular rehabilitation accomplished. On August 28, Maj William H Burton returned to duty with the 46-AIB and resumed command. Lt Col Gilson, who had been assigned to the battalion to command during Maj Burton’s absence, was transferred to the 15-AIB and assumed command of that unit on the same day.
Unit commanders of the Division as of 28 August were :
5-AD, Maj Gen Lunsford E. Oliver, 03536
CCA-5-AD, Brig Gen Eugene Regnier, 08295
HQ&HQ Co CCA, Capt Carl W. Roth, 01010340
CCB-5-AD, Col John T. Cole, 05253
HQ&HQ Co CCB, Capt Joe W. Perry, 01012397
5-AD Arty, Col Douglas J. Page, 04495
HQ&HQ Btry, Capt Norman W. Cusisk, 0466787
CCR-5-AD, Col Glen H. Anderson, 08632
HQ Co, 5-AD, Capt Larry H. Greenwood, 01283065
HQ 5-AD Train, Col Gustin M. Nelson, 014512
HQ Co, 5-AD Train, Capt James R. Bagwell, 01011081
MP Platoon, 5-AD, Maj Alexander T. Nelsen, 0335298
145-ASC (Signal), 1/Lt Glenn A. Welde, 0453447
85-CRS Mecz, Lt Col Kent Fay, 0286301
10-TB, Lt Col William A. Hamberg, 0292156
34-TB, Maj Glen L. Foote, 0450438
81-TB, Lt Col Le Roy H. Anderson, 0239452
46-AIB, Maj William H. Burton, 0366028
15-AIB, Lt Col Kenneth P. Gilson, 0359160
47-AIB, Lt Col Howard E. Boyer, 0218680
47-AFAB, Lt Col John B. Resenzweig, 0246291
71-AFAB, Lt Col Israel B. Washburn, 0235367
95-AFAB, Lt Col James W. McNeer, 0223703
127-OMB (Ordnance), Maj Roland S. Biersach, 0318269
22-AEB (Engineer), Lt Col Fred E. Ressegieu, 020575
75-AMB (Medical), Lt Col Benjamin H. Bader, 0372570
On August 29, orders were received from V Corps for the Division to move a day later through Paris, using three routes :
– A, Route 13 through Saint-German-en-Laye up to Route 310
– B, Route 30 through Rocquencourt and Route 307 through Aubervilliers
– C, Route 10 through Versailles, Route 186 to Route 306 then to Route 24
All routes ran through Paris to a line of departure about six kilometers northeast of Aubervilliers. CCA was given Route C, CCB Route A, followed by CCR; Division Headquarters, Division Troops and Division Trains moved an Route B, following a married infantry-tank company to and through Paris.
The march of the 5th Armored Division started on August 30, with CCB moving out at 0625, CCB at 0630, and the Division Headquarters at 0740. The Headquarters moved through Mantes-la-Ville, Crespières, Saint-Cloud, Bailly and entered the outskirts of Paris at 1000, clearing the city at 1130. Orders were issued to the 85-CRS to continue on and report condition of crossings of Oise River over five routes in the Division zone. At 1600, CCA had reached the town of Claye-Souilly, and CCB had reached Sensil, where light enemy resistance was encountered. Troop B, 85-CRS, captured 90 POWs at this point. The Division CP was located just south of Ducy, with the head of the column held up by enemy AT guns and infantry, Lt Col Kent Fay, commanding 85-CRS, was killed in this action. Maj John P Gerald, Executive Officer of the Squadron, assumed command.
The Division Headquarters and Division Troops columns ware shelled by enemy artillery fire at this location. One casualty resulted from shrapnel. At 1700 CCA was refueling at Messy. CCB’s left column was in contact with the enemy at Lamorlaye, and its right column was still engaged at Senlis. The reconnaissance of CCB was moving on Barbery, the remainder of the task force and the CP were southwest of Chamant. The Division Trains went into bivouac just south of Baron. Both CCA and CCB were given instructions to move forward until dark, then bivouac and report locations, both to continue attack at daylight August 31. CCB took the town of Senlis at 1845 and reported enemy to northeast and to west of the town. At 2330, orders were issued to CCR to move at daylight to clear route north of Division Headquarters. During the day, CCA had no enemy contact along its routes. CCB still in contact with enemy at dark. Throughout the day the enemy had fought a delaying action as he retreated north, launching small counter attacks to slow down our advance elements and by steady shelling from his rear guard units. During this period the enemy was withdrawing from his last positions only about two hours before our forward elements reached them. Enemy casualties for August 30 were : killed 104, captured 184, The 190.Sichereitbattalion was practicality wiped out during the day as it tried in vain fighting desperately from road blocks supported by anti-tank guns, to stem the Division’s advance.
On August 31, the delaying tactics of the enemy continued, as he retreated slowly to the northeast, in order to keep an escape route open west of the Oise River along the Forêt de Compiègne and the Forêt de Laige for units in the path of our advance. The advance or the Division was resumed at 0600. CCB made contact with an enemy roadblock at 0630 just North of Senlis, quickly reduced the resistance and contained a rapid advance. At 1000 both columns or CCB were moving forward without opposition in an attempt to obtain crossings over the Oise River at Compiègne and southwest of Compiègne. At 1100 CCA still advancing had made no contact with enemy. At 1115 CCB reported the bridge at Verberie blown. Also reported by CCB was the capture of an air field near Verberie with concrete runways not greatly damaged and believed repairable for heavy bomber use. CCR reported contact made with the enemy at Betz at 1215, that bridges were blown and the enemy observed digging in across the river. At 1315 troops A B and C, 85-CRS were attached to Combat Commands A, B and R respectively and the Squadron less A, B and C attached to Division Trains in vicinity of Baron to furnish protection. At 1430 CCR was closing in on the river. Enemy resistance was strong but undetermined, CCB reported that an enemy horse-drawn artillery column had run into its column and was being destroyed by tanks. At 1500 CCB reported the bridge out at Creil. CCB made first contact (small arms fire) with the enemy at the same hour. At this point in the advance all routes ran through heavily wooded areas and the advance slowed considerably. The bridges at Compiègne and Pommiers were reported intact.
Effort was being made to force crossings the night or August 31 and push forward to a line Lassigny, Noyon and Chauny. At 1800 the right column of CCA crossed the river at Pommiers, unopposed, at 2000 CCB was five hundred yards south of Compiègne, preparing to attack to secure bridges there. CCR was meeting heavy enemy resistance in the forest north of Ourrouy and Gilocourt. Enemy resistance made it impossible to cross any units over river on 31 August, except the right element of CCA. This crossing was made at Pommiers on the extreme flank of the Corps Zone. At 2310, the left column was in the vicinity of Pont-Sainte-Maxence helping the 28th Infantry Division to hold a bridge head there until a bridge could be built. The right column of CCB was just short of Compiègne . The 112th Infantry Regiment was passing through to attack the town and secure crossing. During the day 180 enemy were killed and 194 POW’s captured. The advance was fast and the enemy were forced to abandon 5 Russian 76,2-MM (3″) AT guns, 5 105-MM howitzers complete with prime movers, and 12 trucks intact. 4 tanks and 13 artillery pieces were destroyed. Total enemy casualties for the month of August were : Enemy killed 2811; captured, 2960; tanks, captured and destroyed 203; armored cars captured and destroyed, 11; motor vehicles captured and destroyed, 404; artillery pieces captured and destroyed, 125.
While the Division was now engaged in operations in the Forêt de Compiègne, its supply points were located southwest of Paris, resulting in a long turn-around. Traffic congestion and much confusion around Paris complicated the process of resupply.
For the Commanding General
EDWARD G FARRAND,
Colonel, G. S. C.,
Chief of Staff
For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be
Thank You for your support !
(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)