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Sunday, June 10, 2018

D+4

The late, great Major Winters following up on the invasion:

By June 10, soldiers from the 29th Division, who had landed at Omaha Beach, linked up with the 101st Airborne Division northeast of Carentan, a town of approximately 4,000 that lay astride the main road artery running to Cherbourg at the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula. To take the town, our division commander, General Taylor, devised a three-pronged assault: the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment would attack from the north; the 501st PIR would assault from the northeast, while Sink’s 506th PIR conducted a night march, swinging around Carentan to the southwest. H-Hour for the divisional attack was scheduled for dawn on June 12. To reach the line of departure, our battalion conducted a night march over unfamiliar terrain—a task that presents its own share of challenges under the best of circumstances.

Easy Company had spent months and months training at night. For all his faults, Captain Sobel had seen that the men were highly proficient in conducting nocturnal patrols and movement. The problems associated with forced marches across country, through woods, night compass problems, errors in celestial navigation, had all been overcome in the months preceding D-Day. Prior to the invasion, Easy Company had experienced every conceivable problem of troop movement under conditions of limited visibility. We had so much experience in night attacks that we had actually learned to see better at night. Not so surprisingly then, the troops were completely at ease as we prepared for the attack on Carentan.

It was my observation that the leaders who experienced the greatest difficulty in handling night movement were regimental and divisional staff officers and personnel. They had “crapped out” on the training problems and did not get to the field day after day and night after night as frequently as had the troops and junior line officers. These shortcomings were evident on D-Day. These staff officers encountered major problems getting oriented and finding their objectives. The numerous hedgerows we found in Normandy only compounded their problems. The junior officers and enlisted soldiers, on the other hand, found their way around and attacked their objectives with ease.

First it's the hedgerows, now it's officers' crapping out on training.  But the GI overcomes all, which is testimony to our long-standing relationship with Germany...no, wait.

ntodd 

PS--Apropos of nothing, earlier this year we realized how we'd missed Sgt Malarkey's passing last fall.  He is now buried not too far from locations we frequent in PDX, and we must visit.

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June 10, 2018 | Permalink

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