|29TH DIVISION - WWII BATTLES|
|8-11 June 1944 - Aure Valley|
V Corps Field Order No. 2, directing a general attack at noon on 9 June, included as preliminary to the attack certain movements already under way by the 29th Division. One was the capture of Isigny; the other was the crossing of the flooded part of the Aure Valley by the 115th Regiment, to be accomplished during the night of 8-9 June.
According to advance intelligence, the lowland between Isigny and Trevieres had been inundated to a depth of two to three feet, over a width varying from a half mile to two miles. When the Aure Valley was reached, conditions were found not as bad as had been reported, since the waters had receded. However, large patches of shallow water remained, the mud was deep everywhere, and the close network of drainage ditches between the two main streams (Esque and Aure) would hamper movement, even though the ditches were not wide. The four bridges along the causeway between la Cambe and Douet had been destroyed. Patrols were sent out on the evening of the 8th to reconnoiter for crossing, and heavy artillery and naval fire was laid on the south bank of the flood plain, particularly near Bricqueville, Colombiéres, and Calette Wood. This preparatory fire included 150 rounds from destroyers' guns and 208 rounds of the 110th Field Artillery Battalion [29th Division].
2d Lieutenant Kermit C. Miller [29th Division] took a combat patrol of platoon strength from Company E, 115th Regiment, crossed the valley south of Canchy after dark, and went into Colombiéres. Already hit hard by artillery concentrations, the enemy force there was disorganized; the patrol took it completely by surprise, ambushed enemy reinforcements, and inflicted more than 40 casualties before withdrawing with 11 prisoners. The 3d Battalion also sent out small reconnaissance patrols of two or three men, who reported getting across at several points but were dubious about being able to guide the battalion.
About first light on 9 June, the 3d Battalion started out over the flats south from Canchy, with the Cannon Company of the 115th [29th Division] as near as possible to the valley for close support. Visibility was good, and enemy opposition in any strength could easily have made the advance very costly. Halfway across, the battalion reached a stream too deep to ford, and stopped while Company A of the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion [29th Division] rigged 10 improvised foot bridges, using assault-raft equipment, pneumatic floats, and bridge timbers. "Weasels" (M-29) were used to get the materials forward. These bridges got the troops over the deeper streams and ditches, but the smaller ones still caused plenty of delay, two hours being required to put the battalion across the exposed flats. Fortunately, the area was practically undefended. No artillery fire was encountered and only scattered rifle fire. The 2d Battalion followed the 3d, and both were over by 1100.
Further east, the 1st Battalion tried to find a passage across the narrower part of the Aure Valley, south of Ecrammeville, but the enemy holding the Trévières area repulsed this effort with machine-gun and rifle fire. The 1st Battalion then marched to Canchy and followed the route taken by the rest of the regiment. Along the causeway, four short treadway bridges were started by the 254th Engineer Combat Battalion and were ready for vehicles that night.
By Field Order No. 4 of the 29th Division, initial objectives assigned to the 115th [Regiment, 29th Division]were Bricqueville, Colombiéres, and the Calette Wood; these were supposed to be occupied by noon as bases for the next phase of the attack. The 1st Battalion marched to Bricqueville, repulsed a weak enemy attack with the aid of close-support fire by the regimental cannon company, and organized defensive positions. The 3d Battalion arrived at Colombiéres by 1020, encountering no opposition. The battalion did not move out on the attack until 1700 and reached its next objective, la Folie, at 2300. Its position that night was to be somewhat exposed, since the enemy still held Trévières, and on the right the 2d Battalion had met disaster.