Major Robert F. Burns
90th Division, U.S. Army
War Letters from Europe
Normandy to Germany
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358th Infantry Typed History
July 9-July 31, 1944
11 July 1944
HISTORY - 358th Infantry
At 0030, companies and battalions were in position and defenses set-up. All units concerned knew that "jump-off" time was 0600. Plans were made for the coming day and were flexible enough to meet any situation. Co B, which had gone to the aid of Lt. Col. Bealke's battalion now reverted to its own battalion. 3rd Bn had two tanks left out of the original four. The TD's, though not officially attached, would stay with the 358th Inf. Lt. Col. Bealke stated he must have plenty of time to reorganize before he could again "jump off".
The hours now are busy ones for the aid men. Litter-bearers streamed up the forest trail carrying water and rations to the men and bringing the wounded back.
By 0530, 1st Bn had begun its operation of mopping-up in its area. At 0555, the artillery opened up, giving the enemy their famous harassing fire. At 0600, Gen. Landrum phoned and discussed the day's plans with Major Wallace. Lt. Col. Bealke, arrived at the CP and gave a report on the previous day's battle. He also gave the present strength of his units (for details see attached Battle report). [Note: not found with these documents]
Lt. Col. Gorton, 2nd Bn 359th (atchd to 358) phoned his plans to Lt. Col. Clarke. He was at that time reorganizing his battalion.
The 1st Bn 358th, would stay in rear and clean up resistance on nose of the hill.
At 0600, the 358th and 359th exchanged information as to regards to the front lines. At 0900, 3rd Bn, 358th, was still reorganizing. 1st Bn now had complete control of the "nose". The CG ordered 3rd Bn to send a staff officer through the woods, collect the stragglers and send them to the front.
H-Hour was now set at 1030. All units were informed. At 1015, 3rd Bn reported they were exposed to artillery fire on three sides. Lt. Col. Loomis, as the Regt'l Comdr's representative, went to investigate. The 3rd Bn, 359, on Lt. Col. Bealke's right, was also receiving artillery fire.
At 1045, our troops (3rd Bn) were pinned down by small arms fire, mortar and artillery fire. Enemy was zeroed right in on them. Two artillery observation planes were seeking out the enemy guns. And at 1045, 2nd Bn, 359, (atchd 358) jumped off.
1100, 3rd Bn was still held down, and was now out of contact - even by radio.
Germans were reported to be in the disabled tanks and using them as pill boxes. Attempts were being made to dislodge them. Artillery fire was now ordered on LASTELLE. Capt. Burns of the 3rd Bn, stated that the enemy mortar was so close he could "hear it drop into the tubes". 3rd Bn still hemmed in at 1150. 30 stragglers were rounded up. More were thought to be dug-in in an open field waiting for help. An enemy tank entered onto the scene and began causing havoc. High velocity shells fired the disabled tanks. Germans to the front were reported as a "new brand". "Absolutely fearless and won't crack until hit", stated Capt. Burns. Cub planes, as yet, had not located the enemy guns.
By 1210, the 3rd Bn was again moving, as was 2nd Bn 359th. Enemy fire had definitely slackened. Things were looking "brighter".
At 1230, the 3rd Bn was 200 yards north of bridge at Phase Line "A".
At 1310, 3rd Bn was again pinned down. Lt. Col. Clarke ordered Lt. Col. Bealke to return for a much needed rest, and sent Lt. Col. Loomis to replace him.
At 1400, the 358th and the 357th again jumped-off. 3rd Bn kept moving until 1510, when Co L ran into heavy resistance and was forced to draw back and reorganize. 3rd Bn out of contact again.
By 1545, the wire was again open to the 3rd Bn. Major Wallace informed Capt. Burns that the 2nd Bn, 359, had reached a point 150 yards North of the trail that led to the 3rd Bn. Major Wallace suggested that Capt. Burns use white phosphorous to "blind enemy observers".
As information was received, it was immediately relayed to G-3.
During this period our troops were fighting a vicious and determined enemy at close range. Visibility was very poor and this aided the Germans, who were clad in camouflage suits. Trouble was always because the 359th units seemed to have trouble advancing, this causing again and again open flanks on the 3rd Bn 358th.
At 1700, the Engineers were released from their attachments to the 358th.
At 1845, Lt. Col. Loomis reported heavy resistance at the bridge and at LASTELLE. Stated he would use artillery.
By 1900, Capt Burns was informed that the 3rd Bn would jump off again at 1940 in conjunction with the 359th.
Lt. Col. Clarke now went forward to the 3rd Bn CP. The 2nd Bn, 359, still 200 yards short of Phase Line "A". At 2105, CG ordered 1st Bn to move as soon as possible. At 2111 all units were moving ahead together.
By 2216, the bridge en route to LASTELLE had been crossed. The orders for 1st Bn were now that "Seegar would pass through Gorton and attack at 0800." At 2227 3rd Bn was ordered to "tie in" for the night. Lt. Col. Clarke asked permission for 1st Bn to relieve 2nd Bn 358th tonight and attack in the morning. 3rd Bn 400 yards SE of bridge with 359th abreast.
At 2245, CG gave permission for the relief of 2nd Bn 359 by the 1st Bn 358. Arrangements were now made. The strength of the 1st Bn was now 596. Lt. Col. Gorton went to the 1st Bn CP to make relief plans. Lt. Col. Loomis reported very light casualties, and that he was tie-ing in for the night.
At 2329, Gen. Williams directed that Lt. Col. Loomis, 3rd Bn, go down NS road East of LASTELLE (with 359) and if town, as supposed, was unoccupied, to occupy it tonight. If occupied, wait until morning.
At 2345, Lt. Col. Clarke, desiring that everything run smoothly, went to the 1st Bn CP.
The enemy activity lessened considerably during the night, especially their artillery fire. The 1st Bn, 358th Inf, had mopped up the high ground (234835). The enemy, in small groups, and in well dug-in positions, had resisted bitterly. The day's attack had begun at 1400, moving S and SE through the FORET DE MONT CASTRE. Resistance was stiff and there was an abundance of mortar fire. It was very evident that the enemy knew this territory and had its guns zeroed in just where an attack would have to come. The Germans took full advantage of their knowledge and utilized their small arms and MG's in conjunction with mortars and artillery. The 358th Inf was delayed more than once by heavy MG concentrations but every time they surmounted the obstacle and fought forward. At the close of the day, even though the enemy had begun withdrawing, they still held a most formidable line.
F.O. No. 9
MAPS: FRANCE 1:25,000 G.S.G.S.
2. 90th Div resumes attack on Obj "D" at 0600 with 359th Inf (less 2nd Bn) and 2nd Bn 358 atchd on right, 358 (less 2nd Bn) with 2nd Bn 359 atchd in center, and 357 on the left. LD, present front lines, (See Overlay. Boundaries and Phase Lines (See Overlay).
3. a. 1st Bn mops up remaining enemy resistance in present area, commencing daylight, reorganizes and reverts to Div Res and will move on Div order only. 2nd Bn 359 mops up remaining enemy resistance in present area commencing daylight and moves to LD prepared to continue attack on order.
b. 3rd Bn reorganizes in present area, prepares to continue attack on order.
c. AT Co, from positions on the E side FORET DE MONT CASTRE, provides anti-mechanized protection from threats directed from the SE. Upon crossing Phase Line "A", displacement will be effected to include protection on the right-West flank.
d. Cannon Co supports attack from present positions, reconnoiters for direct fire positions to be used if necessary.
e. Co A, 86th Cml Bn will be prepared to fire concentrations in the Z of either Bn upon call, priority of fire to Phase Line "A", initially to 3rd Bn.
f. Co A, 607th TD (1 Co) general support - moves from present positions to E nose of the FORET DE MONT CASTRE and will be prepared to fire direct support missions on call.
g. 344th FA Bn direct support, will be prepared to fire preparation upon call commencing at 0550.
h. 315th Engr Bn will hold present positions until further orders.
4. No change.
5. CP (See overlay) Bns select and report. SOI - No change. Emergency pyro-technic signals - change.
Official: WALLACE Maj, B-3
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