|29TH DIVISION - WWII DOCUMENTS|
|116th Reg., 2nd Bn., E Co. - Group Critique Notes - June 1944|
E company arrived on schedule on the beach but was unloaded about 1100-1400 yards to the left of their objective. The assault wave was contained in six landing crafts, the headquarters section was divided between the assault sections. A machine gun platoon was to land in support of this company at H+30 but contact was never established between the two units on D-Day. This company was the first infantry to land on this section of the beach but found that there were already four DD tanks there when they arrived. Several of these tanks were knocked out immediately, but one tank moved up and down the beach firing for some little time.
About a hundred yards from shore the boats received small arms and artillery fire. There were no casualties until the boats reached the beaches.
The 1st section lit a sand bank about a hundred yards from the beach. The men jumped into neck deep water, wading and swimming to shore. There was no fire on the men in the water but as they hit the beach mortar and small fire came their way. It was from two to three hundred yards to the protective high water mark on the beach. Only one man was hit on the beach and then he was within fifty yards of the bank. A medic crawled out and pulled him in.
The second section landed fifty to sixty yards left of the first section. The coxswain was an experienced man and announced in advance that it was going to be a dry landing – which it was. The men deployed on the beach and headed for the high water mark. After the unit was deployed an artillery shell hit among them, several wounding the BAR man, Pvt. Alex Bereski, and stunning several others. The stunned men quickly recovered and moved on. Bereski was left on the beach, but some of the men believe that a medic moved him forward.
The 3rd section came in close to the shore. Just as the bow touched the bottom an artillery shell struck the right side of the boat near the front. The shell penetrated the hull end exploded inside of the craft. Three men were killed and three men severely wounded. Two of severely wounded men later reached the beach. The explosion blew the ramp open on the boat but the men were frozen by the effect of the explosion. Suddenly the men came to life and jumped from the front and also over the sides. A machine gun sprayed the ramp wounding several men. Pvt. Herbert Kaulman was hit in the leg while yet on the ramp and was carried under the boat by a wave. The equipment of several of the men caused them to flounder and the wounded had a very difficult time getting to the shore. When they reached the beach they were not safe for the fire continued and the tide rose very rapidly. About 24 or 25 men made the sea wall, at least five or six of these were wounded.
(The 4th section was not represented. Little if any data can be given about them.)
The 5th section beached 25 yards from the shore. There were no casualties in the water but machine gun, sniper and artillery fire fell on the beach. The first men ran all the way to the wall, the center group of the section caught the bulk of the fire and had many casualties. The last men dropped on the beach and worked themselves forward in several bounds. At least five men were killed on the beach including the company commander. A number of men were wounded. About fifteen men reached the protective wall, two or three of these died soon after.
The company commander, Captain Lawrence A. Madill, was wounded in the trip across the beach. He found that Pfc. Walter Masterly was the only remaining man of the mortar squad and tho he had the mortar he had no ammunition. Masterly volunteered to go back on the beach and salvage some ammunition but the Captain told him to set up his gun while he went for the ammunition. He picked up the ammunition but on his return trip he was hit twice gun bursts and went down. His last words were, "Senior non com take the men off the beach."
The 6th section landed before "E" company of the 16th Infantry but in the same area. The boat struck a sand bar about fifty yards from shore but the ramp would not go down. The men had to push against it with their shoulders to get it to go down at all. Immediately mortar and small arms fire struck the boat. Pvt. Charles Comancho was blinded by the fire and drowned. The flame thrower was so heavily loaded that he had to be helped out of the water. Three or four men were wounded in the water and several were killed on the beach. Almost every man had his clothing and equipment torn by the fragments and bullets. Only 18 to 22 men reached the high water line, but all of these men were the unwounded.
The 1st and 2nd sections were landed closely together. The 3rd was alone. The 4th, 5th, and 6th soon made a juncture.
To the left was an enemy pill box. Sgt Maurice Hatchett fired two rounds into it from his bazooka. Despite the fact that the ranger was three hundred yards, these rounds completely silenced the box. Later some men went up to this position and found that it contained a 75 mm gun. After about ten minutes Pfc Porter Boggis started cutting the wire in a gap in the sea wall. The wire was a single strand type and caused little delay. Thos several men were wounded on the beach, approximately 55 men crouched low and ran thru the beach in the wire. Some 75 yards beyond the wire was an AT ditch which the men used for cover. One man was killed by MG fire while still in the fitch but the men could not advance as a heavy mine filed blocked their path. An hour passed then Pvt. Kerber went forward to attempt to blow a path thru the filed with a bangalore torpedo. Unfortunately, he set off a mine and was killed. Shortly after this a strand of wire was found and the men realized from their previous training that this marked the boundary of the field. The BAR gave covering fire while the men went forward by leaps and bounds. There was little trouble until the crest of the hill was reached. This was about 0930 hours. Here the group met sniper and machine gun fire. Sgt. Lionel Patterson exposed himself while getting observation for his mortar. He knocked out two machine guns. For this he was awarded the DSC. It was now about 1030 hours.