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7-8 June 44 - Grandcamp-Isigny
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29TH DIVISION - WWII BATTLES
7-8 June 1944 - Grandcamp - Isigny

General Gerhardt, commanding the 29th Division, had landed on the evening of D-Day and set up his command post near the Vierville exit, waiting for orders to take over command of the 29th Division. General Cota made several trips from his headquarters in St-Laurent to 1st Division and V Corps Headquarters during the night and early morning and saw General Gerhardt twice to keep him informed of plans. These could be formed only gradually, in view of the uncertain situation around Vierville and St-Laurent and of continued difficulties in communications. When Colonel Canham [29th Division] came to St-Laurent at 0930 to see General Cota and find his 2nd and 3rd Battalions, the road between Vierville and St-Laurent was still under enemy fire and he was forced to make the trip along the beach to D-3 exit.

Plans for D+1 had to be adjusted to meet a number of limiting circumstances. Of the two regiments ashore, the 116th [Regiment, 29th Division] had been severely used and most of its units were still badly scattered; the 1st Battalion started the day with about 250 men. Two artillery battalions (58th and 111th) were ashore, but with less than half their guns. The 175th Regiment [29th Division] was still afloat, scheduled to begin landing at 1030. A number of pressing tasks faced these units as a preliminary to moving against D-Day objectives. The enemy still held a strongpoint at the western edge of St-Laurent. Small parties of riflemen, with occasional support from machine guns and mortars, were reappearing at points along the bluffs to harass the beaches. D-3 exit was not yet fully opened. That the enemy was still close to Vierville, on the south, was proved early (0530) on 7 June when an attack forced Company B of the 121st Engineers [29th Division] out of the Chateau de Vaumicel and back into the village. At Pointe du Hoe, three companies of the 2nd Rangers were known to be isolated, weakened by heavy casualties and in need of ammunition.
Measures to deal with these initial problems were taken by early morning. The 1st Battalion of the 116th [29th Division], the 5th Ranger Battalion, and Companies A, B, and C of the 2nd Rangers, supported by tanks, were ordered to drive west on the highway toward Pointe du Hoe. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 116th [29th Division] were to mop up remnants of enemy resistance along the bluffs, while the 3rd Battalion, 115th Regiment [29th Division], cleaned out St-Laurent and then moved to Vierville for any similar work needed there. The rest of the 115th would push on toward Longueville, its objective on the Isigny highway.

The mopping-up work consumed most of the day. After a heavy naval bombardment, the 3d Battalion of the 115th move on the enemy strongpoint blocking the St-Laurent crossroad and encountered opposition only from snipers. By 0900 St-Laurent was cleared and the 3d Battalion moved toward Vierville, followed by the 1st. Nearing Vierville and receiving word that they were not needed there, they turned south toward Longueville. The enemy counterattack at Vierville had not been in strength, and the situation had been restored by keeping four companies of Rangers and some tanks to protect the village. The 3rd Battalion of the 116th, only partly assembled, went after the remnants of enemy resistance along the bluff west from D-3, finding a few machine-gun positions still in action and taking some prisoners. The 2nd Battalion went into Vierville and then started south with the 3rd toward Louvierés. Enemy resistance was encountered, and at 1700 the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were pulled back for the night to form a perimeter defence at Vierville. After 2000, Vierville was heavily shelled by medium artillery from the Trèviéres area, and considerable damage was inflicted on the heavy traffic moving up through the exit road. Some ammunition trucks were exploded and three antiaircraft guns destroyed. In the 110th Field Artillery Battalion [29th Division], which had just landed to support the 115th Regiment, Battery B [29th Division] lost 2 howitzers and 17 men from the enemy shelling. Immediately following the shelling the Germans made a final attack in company strength from the south. It carried past the chateau before being stopped by mortar and rifle fire.

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