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Part V - On the beach, Starting June 8, 1944 PDF Print
Written by Charles Harper   
Wednesday, 24 April 2002

It was a happy reunion to find that all had arrived and no one had sopped any lead on the way.  We spent the morning getting the waterproofing off the vehicles and later in the day moved up to the town of Audouville and this was June 8, 1944.  We were now in the war and were getting it all first hand.  From now on we would use the training we had received in the states and we were to learn a lot more before it was over. 

That evening we learned the 90th attack.  On the morning of June 10 we were to move west across the Merderet R. taking ground West to Douve R.  The division was to honor no obstacles or acknowledge no hindrance till it reached the hills of Bohemia eleven months later.  The hedge rows of Normandy were used by the farmers to protect their land against erosion and as boundary markers.  However the Germans used them for protection and cover which made our progress slow and bad.  Never the less we got through.

Each day saw new gains if only another hedge row, but at least a gain and we were content with even a small gain.  On the third day Pont L’ Abby fell in to our hands and a few days later our mission was accomplished.  June 12th found us with our mission accomplished and we were immediately given another.  The mud became deeper as more rain fell most every day, but now we weren’t to be stopped so we moved on.  Our advance was slow but always onward till we came to hill 122 which the Germans held and could look down our necks at any time.  Here we were under fire constantly and the division lost many men.  Here all we could do was out fire, out nerve, and outlast the Germans and with help from artillery the hill was taken and with Mont Castre. 

After the hill was taken we were halted briefly to count heads, draw a hasty breath and attend to our wounds then we were off again.  During the next few days many replacements arrived and many sent back from shell shock and wounds.  We now held a small area along the west edge of France and the Germans intended to keep us there and eventually force us back into the channel.  Our plans didn’t read that was though and so again orders came through to attack at dawn.

During our battle for hill 122 one of our jeeps became stranded on the hill, and the guard was sent back to the company for help.  As I was connected with the maintenance section it was our duty to go get it.  It was about two o’clock in the morning and as the hill was thick with trees one could see anything and it usually turned out to be nothing.  Anyway we started up after it with the guard telling us where to go.  The guard was a replacement who had joined the company 6 days after we landed and was doing guard duty at the time.  He knew where he was going though and we soon came to the party we were after.  This guard and myself were to become buddies later and still are very close friends.  Well on getting back to the company area we turned in and finished our sleep.  The next morning we heard that the Germans had broken through our lines and were near our headquarters so all grabbed his rifles attached bayonets and went out to meet the enemy.

We never did find them so returned to camp.  After the hill was taken our next attack was to be against the best troops the Germans had. 
At the end of the first day only 1200 yards had been gained along our front.  Many men had been lost and wounded.  July Fourth we had severe losses and not much gain but we still held on and two days later we had gained 2000 yards.  By the seventh the German line had been broken and we held the town of Beau Coudry.  The enemy forces were by no means broken and the days that passed were touch and go as to who held what.  Every man we could get was sent to the front to help hold the line.  It was a fight to the finish as neither side would give up.  One of our battalions suffered 52% casualties.

The following day the division struck again, battered as it was, and fought till the cream of the German army hesitated, cracked, then what was left broke and ran.  And so another victory was in our hands.  July 26 the 90th again flamed into action this time leveling the city of St Lo.  When we moved through the city about midnight it was still in flames.  With this and successful attacks by other parts of our division the German line was shattered.

To be continued in next week's installment...

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