Dad’s Second Injury at Bois du Hommet, France

by Kim on August 26, 2013

Cherbourg and R&R

The troops continued into Cherbourg to cut off the peninsula and give the Allied troops control of the supply and shipping point, essentially the English Channel. They encountered open terrain, sparsely wooded, and hilly terrains. There was some enemy action, but at this point the enemy gave up and retreated to the city. On June 25th, there were 1000+ German prisoners taken.

The 60th continued toward Beaumont, France and encountered mines. The terrain was still hilly and the guys were running uphill towards gunfire, shooting as they are running. The next day Beaumont was taken.

Starting the next day July 1, the Cotentin Peninsula was conquered and the 9th division got one week of R&R at les Pieux, a village southwest of Cherbourg and north of Barneville, France. It was a pup-tent city, complete with incessant rain. Almost everyone got mail, magazines, and small packages of food and other items from home. Uniforms were replenished, clothes were washed in streams, and hot food was given twice a day. One afternoon, a unit of Army’s special services division rolled up and setup a stage show with 8 French chorus girls, and 3 French burlesque-type comedians who had been taught some dirty American words. Card games were played and the radio was played.

IMG_7732Bois Du Hommet

On July 9th, the troops prepared to continue the front and on the 10th, they were in position to move with the 2nd Battalion on the right. They met heavy resistance along the line occupied by the cavalry and some congestion on the road. On the 12th, they were given the objective to take Bois du Hommet, (Bois translates to “woods”) which was designated as Objective B.

The woods were believed to be occupied in strength by the enemy and a 15 minute artillery preparation was ordered at 1345. The attack jumped off at 1400 and the leading battalions meeting with the only minor opposition reached the western edge of the woods at 1530.

The terrain west of the BOIS du Hommet end north of the village LES CHAMPS de Losque.  CHAMPS de LOSQUE forms a peninsula bounded on the east  and west by streams flowing through low marsh ground which had been inundated but at the date in question was for the most part passable except for the streams themselves. To the north of the peninsula is a piece of high ground in the form of an island in the marshland on which is situated the village of TRIBEHOU.  Reconnaissance patrols had established the fact that the enemy occupied TRIBEHOU in some force but little was known of the enemy strength in the peninsula to the south. Failure to find the enemy in the BOIS du Hommet was somewhat of a surprise, and accordingly the Regiment was ordered to take the northern part of the CHAMPS de LOSQUE designated as Objective “c”.  The 2nd Battalion remained in reserve during this action in the southern parts of the BOIS du Hommet. Lt. Col Kauffman, commanding officer, 2nd battalion, was wounded and evacuated during the night.

The enemy was able to observe our actions and during the night of the 12-13 July 1944, the enemy moved in all or parts of the 5th Prcht Division. Lt. Col Shinberger reported for duty and was assigned to command the 2nd battalion. The Regiment was disposed with the 3rd Battalion occupied the northern tip of the CHAMPS de LOSQUE peninsula, the 1st Battalion immediately south of the 3rd Battalion on and in the vicinity of Hill 21 (391729) and the 2nd Battalion in the southern part of the BOIS du Hommet. The immediate objective of the Regiment was the crossroads at Les Champs de Losque designated at Objective “k”. The attack originally scheduled for 100 hours 13 July 1944  was delayed to 1230, awaiting improvement of the weather to permit a bombing mission. The bombing mission was called off and at 1310 the attack jumped off after a 10 minute artillery preparation. The 1st Battalion advanced south astride the TRIBEHOU – CHAMPS de LOSQUE Road and the 2nd Battalion attacked in two columns from the southern edge of the BOIS de Hommet, using the two parallel unimproved roads at la FEUILLE (411721).

They met strong opposition both to the front and from the enemy flanking fire delivered from the REMILLY Sur LOZON Peninsula. Company E had crossed the main east and west road and was working west parallel to the main road on the southern side. The position around the crossroads was organized for the night with the 1st Battalion on the right, 3rd Battalion in the center and the 2nd Battalion on the left. All three battalions were engaged throughout most of the night. While no organized counterattack seems to have been attempted the whole positions was subject to infiltration by small groups particularly across the low ground from REMILLY SUR LOZON. By 0800 on the morning of the 14th July, the front was comparatively quiet and positions were adjusted and consolidated during the morning and early afternoon.

July 13th was a rainy day and there was no air support as a result of it. Dad was injured during the fighting and received a head wound across the scalp. There was some shrapnel lodged behind his ear. His injury report mentioned that his wrist watch was broken. His belongings at the time were 2 watch bands, 1 flashlight, 2 tape lines, pictures, souvenir coins, scissors, souvenirs, 1 fountain pen, toilet articles, 3 knives, and no money. Little did my father know that this injury, as serious as it was, would save his life a few months later.

A letter postmarked July 23, 1944 from my Dad to his sister Bert from England 4130 US army hospital plant in England, Dad asked about Bert’s boys and her. He wanted her to know that he was feeling OK. He could write a book if the war was over, but it wouldn’t be of value to anyone. There was so much for him to tell, but he probably couldn’t write about details of the war. And perhaps the war experience escapes all words.

Another letter dated July 30, 1944 from the same hospital in England says “Mail comes in regular spurts, we move so darn fast mail can’t keep up.” He sent a photo of himself in battle dress for her to give to his mother. Perhaps he had written that letter earlier when he was actually fighting in Normandy before the injury.

On July 31, 1944, My grandmother Edith received a telegram that my Dad was seriously wounded in France on July 13, 1944. It is incredible to think that she found out 18 days later about his injury.

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