By H. Glen Jenkins
Battle History of A/391
On August 7th., the Germans had a large force near Mortain and were developing a large scale counter attack. They were well equipped with large amounts of tanks and artillery, the shells from their artillery whizzed in or near our position for the next five days and nights. It was here that the Germans had their strongest air support of the whole French campaign. at least in our sector of the front. For five nights in succession large forces of enemy bombers and fighter-bombers came over us. Their flares lit up our position just like daytime and they strafed and bombed every night. Not our own battery position every night but close enough to make us run for our foxholes. The net result for the Luftwaffe was a lot of bombs and ammunition expended but not many casualties in our task force, and none in "A" Battery. They did cause us to lose a lot of sleep and frightened us no little when they would go into their dive and start strafing. The whistle of the bombs falling wasn't exactly a morale booster, either.
Our position was in a wheat field near a large farmhouse. There was cider in abundance in the barn and one of the Frenchmen there had a large stock of wooden shoes. Quite a few of the boys paid the necessary 75 francs and sent a pair home for a souvenir. Quite a few more made deep inroads 'into the supply of cider.
By the 9th the counter attack had developed into a counter offensive in an attempt to drive through to Avranches and to the sea, thus, cutting our force in Brittany off from the rest of the American Army. They, started from east of Mortain. Task Force One and Two of C.C.B. and the 119th Infantry of the 30th Infantry Division were in the path of the counter offensive. The battery was in direct support of these outfits and on the 9th we fired a total of 506 rounds at mortars, infantry, and anti-tank guns.
The battery was having it pretty hot at this time. but nothing compared to that endured by the R.O. and B.C. parties who were up forward with the infantry and tankers. They were near a hill that C.C.B. and the 30th Infantry Division christened "Purple Heart Hill". In this area mortar shells, artillery shells and small arms fire poured in steadily and it wasn't safe for a man to let his head be seen over a hedgerow. Casualties in men and equipment were heavy and a steady stream of replacements was being sent up all the time. Some weren't up long enough to tell about it when they were hit and had to be taken away.
August 10th was this sort of a day and fire was coming in thick and fast, falling around the R.O. track. One fell every close and a fragment went throught the flesh on the upper part of Tec. 5 John W. Manuel's arm. He didn't want to be taken away but the medics insisted and he was taken to the 45th Armd. Med. Bn. for treatment. All thorough this period the R.O. section - Lt. Patterson, S/Sgt. Marik, Pfc. Carroll M. Larson, Pfc. Michael McGrath, Pvt. Charles R. Corbin Jr., Cpl. Robert J. Heinauer - did a very good job and were constantly under heavy fire of all descriptions. Pfc. McGrath and Pvt. Corbin were machine gunners and their accurate and well placed fire helped break up several local penetrations of vehicles and infantry.