During the next three weeks men and officers who were assigned overstrength, or who for
some other reason were not fit for overseas duty, were transferred out of the Battalion and
replacements, where necessary, were received. The attention of the Battalion was then
directed to supply, with a view of equipping for movement overseas. All of the Battalion's
vehicles were also turned in at the camp ordinance shops during this time, and on the 5th
of February the command move to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
There the Battalion had the most hectic four days it had ever experienced. The personnel were
examined and re-examined, inspected and re-inspected, and all equipment other than Government
Issue was disposed of. Finally on 8 February 1944, the weary but "shaken down" members of
the Battalion boarded a train and went to the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River.
While crossing the river in an old Pensylvania Railroad ferry to Pier 14 in Manhatten, a glimpse
of the lower Hudson and of the skyline of New York City was caught. The ferry bumped softly
against the end of the pier and the men, loaded with all their equipment, scrambled up and into
the long dark shed. While standing in line, an old Army custom, waiting to be checked aboard,
the unit met for the first time Red Cross girls serving coffee and doughnuts.
The entire command was aboard H.M.T. Athlone Castle by midnight of the 10th. There was much
speculating as to the destination. The Athlone Castle was one of the Union Castle Lines fleet
and prior to the war plied between England and South Africa. Most of the signs and notices were
in both English and South Aftican Dutch and by the time the ship moved out into the Hudson at
2200 on the following night rumor had the Battalion going almost everywhere in the world.
The crossing was relatively uneventful and quite smooth. Some of the men and officers were
seasick, but after the first few days everyone settled down for the voyage. Aboard ship blackout
was SOP. The food was apparently the standard British sea ration, and was prepared by ship's
cooks, but it left much to be desired by the American palate.
Traveling in convoy, particularly along the erratic course of the northern wartime shipping
lanes, required a much longer time than one would expect. After fifteen days of life on a ship,
the approximately 6,000 troops on board were happy to debark when, at last, the Athlone Castle
moved up the Mersey and was warped into the dock at Liverpool. At 1515 on the 25th of February,
the gangplank was lowered, and the 81st Tank Battalion led the troops off the ship, along the
dock to the railway station and, after again being served coffee and doughnuts by the Red Cross
girls, entrained and traveled through the night to Ogborne St. Geoge.
Billets in England
The train pulled into the little station at the new home for the tankers at one o'clock in the
morning. There Captain Greenberg, who had gone overseas ahead of the Battalion on an advance
detachment, met the train and escorted the troops to their billets. In order that the Battalion
would not move into a strange and vacant camp tired and hungry, and then have to set up the camp,
a detachment of the 2nd Battalion of the 33rd Armored Regiment, Third Armored Division, had put
blankets on all of the beds and had a good meal waiting. Efficient guides were present, and
soon everyone was fed and had gone to sleep.
After a good night's sleep on beds instead of ship's hammocks, it was much easier to set about
organizing the new station. Ogborne St. George was a British installation, a sub-camp of
Cheseldon Camp, and was located a few miles east of Swindon in Wiltshire. The buildings were
primarily of brick and concrete construction, but several older buildings of wood frame construction
had to be utilized to house everyone. There was a small theatre at the camp and Captain
McPherson was able to arrange for nightly showings of the latest American movies.
February in the interior of England is not a lovely month and the unusually damp cold air caused
many running noses. It was only a few days before the entire Battalion developed a case of the
"ETO sniffles." The area itself was rather like a combination of American camps and the country
was quite favorable for the use of tanks. The small villages throughout the area were promptly
characterized as quaint but the city of Swindon was similar to any small city.
The principal task now was to draw vehicles and make them combat serviceable. The tanks, half-tracks,
peeps, and trucks were issued early in March, and preparations made for their use. Through the
remainder of March and the first half of April, a training program was instituted to maintain
the high state of training, particularly the physical strengthening of the men's bodies, after
several weeks of inactivity. New maps of the surrounding countryside were issued and the
British system of map coordinates had to be learned. This proved to be a very simple and
Preparing for the Invasion
The maintenance personnel had their hands full checking over every vehicle, painting, greasing,
modifying the mortar platoon's guns, welding shields on the front of the drivers and bow gunner's
hatches on the tanks, rebuilding the light tank engines, assembling trucks and trailers. The
work progessed slowly, and long before it was completed the Battalion was ordered to move to
Truro, in Cornwall, for the purpose of setting up and maintaining tent camps for use of the
invading troops while they were marshalling for the invasion of France.
Each company loaded what impediments it needed for housekeeping, along with some of its personnel,
on trucks borrowed from Service Company and the movement started. As the trucks were unable to carry
all of the personel, the remaining men rode a train to Truro, with the exception of a small
detachment left at the camp. By the 16th of April CWO Isadore Napoliello and a few maintenance
men from each company were the only members of the Battalion left at the Ogborne camp. They
still had a very big job ahead of them to get the vehicles completely checked and serviceable.
In Cornwall it was to be the mission of the entire division, and many other troops, to set up
small well camouflaged and dispersed camps to house the invasion troops just prior to their
loading on vessels to cross the English Channel. Although it was a little warmer along the
Cornish coast, the weather was still chilly. Pyramidal tents had been set up before the arrival
of the tankers, but they had to be repitched. The tents were pitched along hedgerows, stone
fences, and tree rows. Pierced planks had to be laid so that paths would not be worn in the
fields to give evidence of occupancy. Slit trenches were dug for use in case of enemy air attacks.
The earth that was removed had to be painted to match the rest of the scenery.
Colonel Anderson was placed in command of two "sausages" - a series of fourteen camps each,
built along two main roads. Major McNamara commanded "C" sausage and Major Lord commanded "F".
Each camp was built to accomodate about 200 transient troops in addition to the static personnel.
Each company operated five of the camps, except "D" and Service companies. They each had four,
as they had less men than the other companies. Food was prepared at each camp for the personnel
within the camp. The tankers soon became very good cooks, as well as general housekeepers.
The days became warmer, so that life in the open became very pleasant. The housekeeping duties
were fairly light with the camps empty. In the evenings passes were available to Truro and
Redruth. The people of Chacewater opened their small clubroom so that the soldiers off duty
in the evenings might have a place to go and get a "snack".
Early in June the 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigades moved into "C" sausage with their
equipment, and a part to the 29th Infantry Division moved into "F" sausage. These were to be
invasion troops and final preparations were made for their departure. Last minute changes in
equipment were made and then, two days prior to D-Day, they moved down to the "hards" at the
water's edge in Falmouth, under the cover of night.
When the radio announced 6 June 1944 as D-Day, the sausages were empty again, as they had been
when the Battalion arrived. Within less than a week the camps were closed down and the Battalion,
with a feeling of regret, moved overland by motor convoy to Tilshead in Wiltshire. By leaving
Cornwall at 0400 on the 12th of June, the trip of 175 miles was made in one day. At 1550 the
Battalion arrived at the West Downs camp at Tilshead. The few buildings that were available
to the division were used by Division service troops, so that the artillery, infantry and
tank battalions bivouaced in their shelter-halves in the field. A constant wind blew across the
Salisbury Plains, where the Battalion camped, and at times it was most uncomfortable.
The maintenance detachment that had remained at Ogbourne St. George packed up their equipment
and rejoined the Battalion. Several large tents were erected for the use of the Battalion
maintenance platoon and the modifications on the vehicles continued. Every vehicle had extra
racks for gasoline and water cans that had to be welded on, peeps needed machine gun mounts
fastened, the tanks had to have their fenders removed, ration boxes were fastened on the
half-tracks, radios were installed, tuned and tested. The equipment that had been waterproofed
and packeaged had to be cleaned and properly stowed, and many other details attended to.
Ready for Combat
Tactical training had been neglected greatly since the Battalion had been overseas, and a
program to ready the tankers for their part of the fight was institued. There was a great deal
of practice in dry shooting, with the tankers spending many hours in manipulation exercises with
their tank cannons. On the 28th of June the Battalion drove to Minehead, a peacetime Summer
resort, to use the firing ranges. Ranges were used for three days, and the tank gunners had good
opportunity to fire at moving targets. The carbines and sub-machine guns were also fired in
a refresher course. The evenings, however, were generally free, and the personnel could enjoy
the pleasures the town had to offer.
Through a system of rotation of battalions at the ranges, the 81st Battalion did not clear
the Minehead area until 3 July. Back at the Tilshead camp, practice for combat continued. The
men knew that they would be headed for France soon and were eager to be on their way. The
Secretary of War, Mr. Henry D. Stimson, visited and addressed the Division on the evening of
the 13th, and the knowledge that the Division would soon be on its way was confirmed.
Unit identification code words for use over the telephone and unit road signs were assigned.
The 81st Tank Battalion was to be known as Voo Doo. This code word was used for the remainder
of the stay in Europe, except on official documents and mail. The 15th A.I.B. was known as Von,
C.C.B. as Votive and Division as Volvano.
General Oliver desired that his division should be composed of three fairly identical Combat
Commands, and that each Combat Command be a complete self contained fighting force, each with
its own artillery, infantry, tanks, and service personnel. The General also instituted a tactic
called "married formation". In this formation the tanks and infantry would be integrated into
a task force with a tanks crew and an infantry squad fighting side by side, each performing
the function for which he had been trained.
A tactical exercise was planned, to be studied and then to be practiced in the field at the end
of the month. Before the exercise could be held, however, the Division recieved its orders to
proceed to the Dorchester Marshalling Area, and prepare for overseas shipment.
By 1700 on the 22nd of the month, the Battalion had traveled the sixty-five miles to Dorchester.
Having had previous experience operating marshalling area camps, the men were disappointed to see
the shabby camp they were housed in, but the stay was short and the camp was tolerable. At 0500
two days after arriving at the marshalling area, the long battalion column moved out for the
Weymouth hards and, after the fifteen-mile trip, was prepared to board LST's (Landing Ship,
Loading proceeded very slowly and most of the afternoon was spent waiting in the assembly yards.
As evening drew near, however, the vehicles were loading and by 1700 the Battalion was
completely loaded on its ships. That night, the 24th of July, the voyage to the Continent started.
The following day was spent on the decks of the ships, with no sight of land, until 2130 when
the ships were 3 miles off Utah Beach, France. Landing operations were held of till daylight.
As the darkness of the night gave way to the coming morning of 26 July 1944, the deck rails of
two LST's were lined with men of the Battalion, all eager to get a glimpse of Normandy's Utah
Beach on the southeast coast of Cherbourg Peninsula. Finally the faint outlines of other ships
in the convoy became clearer. Soon land was in sight. As the morning hours passed the shore
loomed closer and closer. By mid-morning the tide was high and the LST's were run onto the beach
and grounded. By noon the water had receded from the beach sufficiently to permit the great
iron doors in the bows of the ships to be opened and the large forward ramps to be lowered.
Peeps, trucks, half-tracks and tanks poured out of the ships, moved across the beaches littered
with boats, vehicles, equipment and supplies, and onto the narrow, winding country roads of
Normandy, France. Through this war-torn, battle scared area the Battalion drove; through St.
Mere-Eglise, northwest on route N-13 through the destroyed towns of Montebourge and Valognes,
southwest on route D-2 through the ruins of St. Saveur-le-Vicomte and bicouaced in the little
hedge-bound fields just a few kilometers to the west of the village.
Scenes of Recent Fighting
Along the roads throughout the area were stock piles of captured German ammunition and supplies,
which the men took great interest in examining. Many indications of recent fighting still
remained; such as the booby-trapped fences and gates, mines and fox-holes along the roads and the
destroyed vehicles and equipment, both Allied and German, scattered throughout the area.
From observations of other units which had been committed in combat, it was estimatd that the
Battalion would see action against the enemy within the next four to six days. Therefore these
few days were to be spent with the maximum emphasis on the final stages of training and preparation
for combat. the tank-infantry teams that had been so hastily organized in England devoted
considerable time to developing and practicing tactics to be used in routing the enemy from
this hedgerow country.
The tanks were to lead the attack, with very close infantry support, spraying the hedges with
machine gun fire and firing their tank cannons into the fence corners and other likely
anti-tank or mortar positions. The infantry was then to move in and mop up the area, while the
tanks secured the front and exposed flanks. It was believed that, using this plan of attack,
the enemy would be either killed or forced to withdraw, with the least possible loss of friendly
The Hedgerows of Normandy
The fighting of the Allied troops thus far since the invasion had been slow, hard and costly in
this hedgerow country of Normandy. The hedges consisted largely of small trees growing very close
together, with a dense undergrowth of tough, willowy, brush. They were usually about ten to
fifteen feet high and three to six feet thick. In many cases they were planted on the top of a
ridge of earth and rock about three feet high with a ditch on one side.
A reconnaissance of the country revealed that nearly all of the fiels were surrounded with these
hedges, which served the purposes of fences and were solid enough in most cases to stop a tank.
In order to overcome these obstacles, hedgerow cutters, which the Ordnance fastened from German
beach barricades, were fastened to the front of one tank of each platoon. The cutters were
constructed to resemble large saw-teeth and proved to serve their purpose very well.
At this time very bitter fighting was in progress in the St. Lo area but, with the aid of large
fleets of Allied bombers and fighter plaanes, the American troops were gradually forcing the
collapse of the enemy defenses in this sector. The strategy called for an expoiting mission, led
by armor, as soon as a break-through could be accomplished. The Third United States Army
commanded by "Blood and Guts" Patton, which had until this time not become operational, was
given the mission. Now that the Fifth Armored Division was on the European Continent, assigned
to the Third Army and was ready and eager for a combat mission, it bacame the logical choice
to do this exploiting job.
The Division was alerted on 1 August for movement on short notice, duffle bags and other
unnecessary equipment and impediments were collected and stored under canvas in a field and
guarded by members of the Division Band. Ten-in-one rations were issued for the first time and
the company kitchens became non-operational. Fuel and ammunition trucks were double loaded,
extra ammunition was stowed in the tanks, surplus personnel of the tank companies were put in
a pool in Service Company and the Battalion was declared ready to take off on any mission
that might be assigned.
Starting the Long March
That same day the Battalion received orders to move forward to an assembly area in the vicinity
of Periers. When everything was in a state of readiness, the camouflage nets were removed and the
vehicles moved out of their places of hiding to start on the first small step of the long march
to Germany. After dark that night the tanks pulled into the bivouac about two miles north of
Periers and the next day moved to a forward assembly area neaar St. Hilaire. The next two days
were spent here in final preparation for the great exploiting mission, which was to be the first
mission of this kind in history in which a full armored division was to be used as an exploiting
force behind enemy lines.
The Allied forces had advanced so rapidly in the past few days that many German soldiers had not
been captured, so the companies sent out patrols and soon began to bring in prisoners. The first
German soldier to be taken prisoner by this Battalion came from the 177th Grenadier Regiment
of the 91st Infantry Division. Other prisoners were taken from the 5th Parachute Division and
the 243rd Infantry Division.
During the afternoon and evening of 5 August a section of the I & R Platoon of Headquarters
Company was sent out to locate Service Company and guide it to the Battalion area. Late in the
afternoon the section was ambushed by a small German outpost. Sergeant Schwartz, behind the
machine gun on Lieutenant J.C. Bearden's peep, immediately opened fire and killed seven of the
eight German soldiers. This was the first action on the part of the Battalion and one of the
first of the Division. The recon section was then able to withdraw without suffering any
casualties. Meanwhile, Service Company reached the bivouac area unaided.
That night the Luftwaffe bombed American positions several miles to the north of the Battalion
area. It was a thrilling sight to watch the hostile planes drop their flares and see the long
streams of tracer bullets fired at the planes, and then hear the sound of the bombs exploding
as they hit the ground. A low flying plane strafed the road through the Battalion area and one
round hit Corporal John K. Nunn of "C" Company, injuring him so that he had to be evacuated
to the hospital. He was the first casualty of the Battalion.
To aid in its tactical control, the Division had been divided into three Combat Commands of
equal strength. Combat Command "B", commanded by Colonel John T. Cole, had as its major combat
troops the 81st Tank Battalion, 15th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 71st Armored Field
In order to make this Combat Command a more effective fighting force it was divided into two
separate Task Forces, one under the command of the Tank Battalion Commander and the other under
the command of the Infantry Battalion Commander. The Infantry Battalion gave two rifle companies
to the Tank Battalion and the Tank Battalion gave one medium tank company to the Infantry
Battalion. The components of each of the Task Forces, as they were to function throughout the
combat operations, are shown in table form below.
Task Force Anderson Task Force Wintermute
(Named for its C.O.) (Named for its C.O.)
Hq. and Hq. Co., 81st Tank Bn. Hq. and Hq. Co., 15th A.I.Bn.
"B" Co. 81st Tank Bn.} "A" Co. 81st Tank Bn.}
"B" Co. 15th A.I.Bn. } "A" Co. 15th A.I. Bn.}
"C" Co. 81st Tank Bn.} Service Co. 15th A.I.B.
"C" Co. 15th A.I.Bn. }
Service Co. 81st Tank Bn.
"D" Company was retained under the direct control of Comat Command "B". The 105mm howitzer
tanks were taken from the tank companies and attaached to the assault gun platoon in
Headquarters Company to form a six-gun firing battery.
As can be seen from this table, TFA was about double the strength of TFW.
An infantry company and a tank company working in close support of each other were called
"married companies". In this Combat Command it was the rule to have married formations
whenever action was in the offing. Each tank had one squad, or a part of a squad, of infantry
with it. Sometimes the infantrymen actually rode on the tanks, but more frequently traveled
in their own half-tracks, a half-track following each tank. The infantry quite frequently
had to dismount in order to clean out small pockets of enemy infantry and bazooka men that
might have caused a serious problem to the tankers. The tankers and doughboys lived and worked
together so that the smoothest of operating teams might be developed. This combination had been
conceived by General Oliver but due to the short training time available in the United Kingdom
was not properly tested in the field prior to combat operation.
On the Road to LeMans
Having been divided into two task forces the Combat Command proceeded on its mission, the
liberation of the City of LeMans.
"A" Company left its assembly area on 6 August with the initial mission of blocking the roads
southwest of Laval, and TFA, with "B" Company leading, proceeded toward the same town with the
mission of blocking the roads to the southeast. Both task forces were to move abreast on parallel
routes, TFA on the left flank and TFW on the right flank, The road was such that both forces
were required to use the same road on several occassions.
"A" Company, while driving through the town of Cosse-le-Vivian, received its first hostile fire.
The platoon was leading, and halted the column. Lieutenant Robert Lant sent the second section
of his platoon into the town, with the married infantry going in on foot. With the second section
inside the town, the sounds of small arms fire could still be heard, so Lieutenant Lant brought
in the remainder of the platoon. Since this was the first engagement for the platoon a great
deal of ammunition was fired. At the beginning of the fight Pfc. Leroy Titsworth shot and killed
the first of many German soldiers to be killed by "A" company.
The fight was soon over, with the German soldiers being either killed or forced into hiding. It
was not possible to mop up the remnants of the enemy force, as the mission of cutting off Laval
was not yet completed, but the remaining Germans were left disorganized and could easily be picked
up by troops coming up behind. During the action the remainder of the Company by-passed the
town and continued toward the east. The first platoon soon caught up with the Company, and when
darkness fell the Task Force bivouaced for the night at Villers Charlemagne.
TFA advanced through the day without meeting any hostile troops, until late in the afternoon. Just
as Lieutenant Leonard Keene, who was at the point for "B" Company approached a bridge across the
Mayenne River, south of Laval, he saw two German cars driving along the road just ahead of him.
His tank immediately opened fire and knocked out the cars. Close examination a litlle later
showed that the vehicles were loaded with demolition to be used in blowing up the bridge that
had just been crossed.
In a short time a group of French civilians gathered and were given the rifles, food and clothing
that were found in the German cars. This soon became accepted policy in France. Most of the
civilians were only too glad to join the FFI in hunting down scttered German soldiers and turning
them over to the liberating forces. Then, too, they hadn't had any new shoes or clothing for
several years, and were happy to get the Wehrmacht equipment.
When dusk came TFA bivouaced at an airport near Meslay-du-Maine. The third platoon of "B" Company
spotted an enemy armored tank reconnaissance car at the crossroads on N-159 and N-23, and
immediately took it under fire and destroyed it. While the Company road-blocks were still being
put in place, a small enemy force tried to run through the positions going southeast from
Sergeant Krafka saw the force coming and got ready to shoot. He waited until he could clearly see
the enemy vehicles by the light of the burning recon car, and the he ordered his gunner to open
fire. Sergeant Minturn opened fire, too, and notified the rest of the Company that the hostile
force was trying to get through. 1st Sergeant Wenberg organized the dismounted men and rounded
up the German soldiers as they fled from their destroyed and burning vehicles.
One tank managed to slip by this platoon of Lieutenant John Jonasch's and ran down the road.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Robert McNab's first platoon further down the road was shooting up a
motorcycle and a Volkswagen, which came from the opposite direction, when the German tank
approached. The platoon took care of the fleeing tank, along with the motorcycle and Volkswagen.
When the shooting ended and the road-blocks reorganized, the Company commander, Captain Weldon
W. Wilson, saw that none of his men had been hurt and that none of the Company's equipment had
been lost. It was a different story for the Germans, though. They lost four Mark IV tanks, two
Volkswagens, one motorcycle, had eleven men captured and more than twenty killed.
"D" Company also was kept busy during the day. A platoon of light tanks was attached to each
task force, and the remaining platoon provided train defense for all of the CCB trains. The light
tanks were used principally for "bird-dogging" down side roads that might be used as an enemy
approach lane. Lieutenant Jacob Werner's third platoon had its first fight in Poille, while
operating with TFW. The first tank went all of the way through the town without a shot being
fired, but when the rest of the task force came up to the town the Germans cut loose. It was a
fast battle and soon over. The tankers fired at all likely hostile positions in the town and,
with their armored protection, easily dealt with the situation. At the end of the action Captain
Kraft, who commanded the infantry in TFW, credited Sergeant Mario Rotti and his tank crew with
killing twenty-seven Germans and blowing up a German ammunition truck.
The next morning, 7 August, found the tanks on the move again. It was another clear, warm day,
after a starless night. The two task forces converged at Meslay-du-Maine and then "A" Company
led the way southeast to Sable. There this mighty spearhead turned to the east and pushed on
Welcome to "Liberators"
The great tank-infantry team made an impressive sight to the citizens of the newly liberated
towns. To show their appreciation, the civilians threw flowers to all of the vehicles and at
every short halt gave cider, wine, cognac, and even chanpagne to their liberators. Large Tricolor
flags were taken from hiding and flown from windows and roof tops. Signs were erected saying
"Welcome to our Liberators" and Vive la France, Vive L'Amerique." It was a happy day for the
civilians as the Americans came by. Frequently one village would telephone ahead to the next and
when the Battalion entered the next town flags would be flying and people would throng the streets.
Many times it was more like a parade than a fight.
At the small town of Maigne a force of German fanatics armed with rifles and machine guns
fired at the column from the doorways and windows of the buildings. The town was deserted
by the civilians, most of whom were out in the fields or hidden in their cellars. Orders were
radioed from colonel Cole to Captain William A. Boyson in the Battalion Command half-track
to have the Battalion push on, assuming all reasonable losses. Lieutenant Colonel Anderson
then gave his company commanders the order to run through the town with all guns firing.
Capt. Donal Hearl ordered his "A" Company tanks forward. As the column wound its way
through the town the Germans started sniping, so the tanks, with their cannons and machine guns,
and the half-tracks, with their machine guns and rifles, returned a very heavy volume of fire.
In a few minutes the town was blazing furiously.
"A" Company passed through the town without loss and the remainder of the Battalion probed its
way through the mounting debris, still firing into all likely hiding places. When an enemy
machine gun was spotted in a church steeple, "C" Company's gunners immediately blew the steeple
apart. At dusk, when Service Company entered the town, only smouldering ruins remained to
indicate another French town touched by the finger of war. The task forces of CCB had completely
During the fight Private Al Sherbing, who kept a watchful eye on the radios in the Battalion
Headquarters was wounded. The medical peep, while evacuating Sherbing, was hit by sniper fire
and the driver killed, the first death of the Battalion. Although the peep displayed a large
Red Cross flag, the sniper kept firing. Sherbing was hit again and died shortly thereafter.
Later in the night Lieutenant Benjamin Potts from "D" Company drove through Maigne in a peep.
As he turned a corner in the town a German soldier fired at him from the doorway of a burned out
house. Immediately another shot rang out across the street. The sniper's quick shot missed
Lieutenant Potts, but the FFI soldier, who had fired from across the street, didn't miss
the German. France's underground movement still maintained a careful watch. General Eisenhower
in an announcement shortly before D Day had ordered the FFI to wear Tricolor brassards on the
left arm and declared that the FFI was a military organization under his command. Many times
in the drive across France the speed was maintained through the patriotic efforts of the FFI.
A short refueling stop was made two miles west of Noyen at 0300. Fuel trucks from Service Company
made the rounds of all of the combat vehicles, dropping off the neccessary number of five-gallon
gasoline cans. Vehicles were quickly refueled and checked. The empty cans were picked up by
Service Company and at 0600 the march continued. On this day, the 8th of August, "C" Company
took the lead, pushing on through La Suze and Arnage.
At Arnage CCA crossed in front of the column from CCB's right flank to the left flank, in order
to cut off the approaches to Le Mans from the west and north. For three hours CCA went by. When
the road was clear again, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson left his C.P. at Arnage and ordered "C"
Company into Le Mans, while "B" company blocked the roads to the southeast. "A" Company, which
had followed TFA, passed through "B" and "C" Companies and established roadblocks east of the
city on highway N-157. At 1800 Lieutenant Howard Miller led his platoon of "C" Company tankers
up N-23 into the city.
At the Gnome-Rhone aircraft factory and airfield located at the southern edge of this important
rail termanal city, a few Germans tried to hold off the column, but Lieutenant Paul Dreisbach's
mortar men knew how to deal with them. Huge bomb craters provided covered firing positions for
the enemy. Infantry would not have a chance if it tried to dig out the Germans, and the big
craters made it too difficult to try to use the tanks. This was the time to use the mortars
from Headquarters Company. A heavy barrage was laid down using a mixture of WP and Heavy HE ammo.
When the Germans tried to run the tankers machine gunned them and the infantry picked them off
with their rifles.
Thirty minutes after the fight started the column was on the move again. By 2000 the city had been
liberated. The 79th Infantry Division mopped up the city, but the southern suburbs yielded
about 200 PW's to "C" Company. By midnight Service Company had evacuated the prisoners to the
rear. All of the roadblocks were well established. At noon the following day, after a quiet
but very dark night, the task forces assembled east of the city and prepared to continue the
drive to Paris.
German 7th Army!
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