On August 8, 1944 I was a scout in A, 391st Armored Artillery Battalion and our RO half-track was attached to Task Force Hogan of CCB, which included a Company of Infantry from the 119 Regiment of the 30th. Infantry Division on.
In 1990 I wrote to Assist Mayor Monsieur Rene Langlois in Mortain and sent a copy of my Mortain 100 yards. I wanted to know if he knew of the battlefield and the location of it. He answered that there was no record of the battle I wrote of and it was unknown to anyone in Mortain. I answered and sent more documents but to no avail. Later I conferred with Mark Readon who was researching Mortain for a new book called Victory at Mortain. He acknowledged my description of the battle and it was in line with the data he had collected. He established the crossroads I was referring to as RJ 178.
In early 1998 I again wrote to Monsieur Rene Langlois and told him I would be in Mortain on the 10 of June to search for the forgotton battlefield, with my friend Eddy Monfort of Malempre, Belgium. He arranged for two hotel rooms for two nights and lunch with the Mayor, and offered to be my guide for the research of the battlefield. We arrived on the 10th, had dinner and met Monsieur Rene Langlois for breakfast. We started out in search of my battlefield and RJ 178. We drove around for an hour and found no sign of a sunken dirt road. Finally I asked to start over again and retrace the steps though la Grange and on to the small road I was looking for. I was told the neighborhood had grown and that new houses had replaced the fields and there was no battles reported there. We came to a turn with a cross and sped up a small hardtop road to a road junction RJ 172. Is this it "asked Monsieur Langlois"? I told him I didn't know, as I never got to see the crossroads. Eddy Monford and Monsieur Langlois were jabbering away in French as Monsieur Langlois could not speak English.
I got out and walked back down the road alone. I had gone 300 yards when I saw a small turn in. Then I saw a row of trees that used to be hedges . I knew I had spend four days there in a hole under our half-track. It was a landmark I recognized and across the field was where LTC. Hogan had his HQ set up under a half-track. The field up from there toward the crossroads was the field I was in when the 12 Shermans were knocked out. The dirt road was now hardtoped. I rushed back up the hill to tell my comrades that this was the place. Monsieur Langlois insisted there was no report of a battle here. We turned left and went down the road to a farmhouse. The farmer told us there were two burned out spots from tanks that were across the sunkened road from the field I was talking about. There was a small farmhouse near the corner and we went through their yard and the man of the house came with us and pointed out the large spots; still there after fifty years. Then his wife met us in the yard and told us when she was a little girl; there were five American tanks in the field across the road from her house. This was the field I was in during the raging battle. All of the tanks were taken away later. The crossroads turned out to be RJ 172. There was no such crossroads junction as 172. I had proved my battlefield to Monsieur Langlois and he agreed as we went to lunch with the Mayor and then he took me to meet Dr. Giles Buisson who wrote the book called "MORTAIN 44". He seemed overjoyed for me and gave me and autographed copy of his book. He had been a Town Council Member in 1944 and Mayer 1968-83
Next morning I drove through Le Newberg passed the Abby St Clair and turned left up this small road by the cross.
I remember going up this road on Aug. 9, 1944. We went through the 12th Regt of the 4th. ID who could not advance. They advised us to stay low and fire on both sides. I was firing a mounted 30 Cal machine on one side and Michael Trigger McGraph was firing another on the other side.
In all the seriousness of the war something funny happens. As we reached the top of the hill we relaxed from all the firing. Trigger stood up as the half-track backed up and he slipped with his finger caught in the trigger ring. The gun was firing all around in a circle. I caught him and put him in balance so he could get his finger out. He then turned to me and told me he thought he saw some Germans over there
I continued up the hill to RJ 172 took some Photos and went on my way to the Brittany Cemetery to visit my old buddy, Gene Louis Pareanteau and headed toward Paris, France.
Several months later after answering some written questions my article was published in the Mortain Quaterly in French. Below is a copy of the article in English and French.