100 YARDS TO MORTAIN 1944

By Charles R. Corbin
391 Field Artillery Btn.
Third Armored Division

I was in A Battery 391st. RO (recon and forward observer) section which had a jeep and half-track and seven to nine men. We like everyone else were learning by our mistakes and pride was overcoming fear. We were in the first week of August and our big assignment was helping a company of infantrymen from the 4th. Infantry division take an objectives. Lt. Patterson, Sgt. Marik and I packed our jeep radio and went on foot with them. We provided artillery and reached our objective after getting pinned down in a barn or horse stable. Then we got a call to report back to go with the 1 St. Infantry Division. When we arrived back we 1earned, our jeep driver Robert Horton and Jean Parenteau had been killed by an artillery shell and put our jeep out of action. By August. 8th. We were" with CCB again and received orders to join TaskForce Hogan and the 119th. Infantry Regt. of the 30th division on August 9th. to halt a counter attack between Abbaye-Blanche and Mortain. Our objective was RJ 272.WE passed through Le Neufbourgar in the early afternoon, made a left turn off the main road and went up the sunken road and uphill and passed through the 12th. Infantry Regiment of the 4th. Division. We hit heavy resistance about 300 yards from our objective and our two lead tanks got hit by enemy fire about 100 yard from RJ 272 and burned. TF Hogan made plans to turn the rest of the attacking column in a field left of the road and and attack after a tank with sharp rails or spikes that had been welded on the front, had made a hole through the tall hedgerow so the lead tank could go through and attack the crossroads. Lt. Patterson told our driver John Manual to follow the first after the tank with the rails made a hole. We tried to do this twice as each lead tank was hit by enemy anti tank fire. Lt. Cooper of I Co. pulled up beside us in his tank and while waiting for another hole to be made he joking said "It would be nice to get a million dollar wound and get the hell out of here His tank passed by us and was hit trying to pass though the hedge-row. I could feel the heat of the next shell passing close to my head as we backed up I saw two tankers get out of the tank and pull Lt. Cooper out and assist him past us He didn't seem to be seriously wounded. I waved to him. The other tanks had coiled in the field and the German tank that had been waiting for us cut loose with direct fire, also mortal and artillery and machine guns pounded our tanks and infantry. The tank next to us went up in flames and a tanker was having trouble getting out, Another tanker Jumped on the tank and tried to help but was hit by a bullet. Then a shell beheaded the tanker. At this point we bailed out of the half-track. I was between two infantry men and a shell landed behind us and serious wounded the two of them allthough I thought they were both dead. The rest of the 30 th. Infantry retreated. All or most of our tanks had been hit and the men that could get out retreated back to the next hedgerow. A piece of shrapnel hit our driver in the arm and l helped him back. All of our section was accounted for except Lt. Patterson who was kneeling over the two infantry near our half-track. I waved for him to come back but he waved for me to come to him.

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