116th Infantry - After Action Report
                        C O N F I D E N T I A L

319.1                          1st Ind.


TO:  The Adjutant General, War Department, Washington, 25, D. C.

THRU:  Commanding General, XIX Corps., A.P.O. 270, U. S. Army.

     Forwarding in compliance with letter, Headquarters First United States
Army, file 319.1, subject:  "Action Against Enemy, Reports After/After Action
Reports, dated 13 July 1944, and letter, Headquarters, XIX Corps., same subject
and file, dated 19 July 1944.

            For the Commanding General:

                                              ROBERT H. ARCHER, JR.,
                                              Lt. Col., A. G. D.,
                                              Adjutant General.

                        C O N F I D E N T I A L

C O N F I D E N T I A L AFTER ACTION REPORT FROM 1 JULY to 31 JULY 44 THIS REPORT IS SUBDIVIDED INTO THE FOLLOWING FOUR (4) PHASES: P H A S E I 1 July 44 to 11 July 44 TRAINING SOUTH OF COUVAINS TO START OF ATTACK FOR ST LO P H A S E II 11 July to 19 July 44 DRIVE TO CAPTURE ST LO P H A S E III 19 July 44 to 28 July 44 P H A S E IV 28 July 44 to 31 July 44 MOVEMENT OF 116TH INFANTRY INTO VICINITY OF ST SAMSON DE BON FOSSE, SUBSEQUENT ATTACK TO CLEAR ENEMY POCKETS OF RESISTANCE IN MOYEN. ********************************* Detailed accounts of each engagement can be found in the attached journal with pertinent overlays. PHILIP R. DWYER, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding. -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- This is to certify that this is a true account of the actions of 116th Infantry for the period 1 July 1944 to 31 July 1944 and that unit journals and supporting papers, hereto attached, are the true originals. PHILIP R. DWYER Colonel, Infantry, Commanding. C O N F I D E N T I A L
P H A S E I FROM TRAINING SOUTH OF COUVAINS TO START OF ATTACK FOR ST LO Despite numerous counter-attacks by a determined enemy, CT 116 weathered these thrusts superbly and maintained its positions on a line established 800 yards north of ST ANDRE DE L' EPINE (557655). Twice within the space of 24 hours the enemy launched successive blows at the right rear and front of the 1st Bn, 116th Infantry. The 3rd Bn, 116th Infantry, situated directly to the rear, was alerted on a 30-minute notice to counter-attack from either flank, or, in the event of a pen- etration, to meet a thrust through the center. The aggressiveness with which the enemy made its bids against out troops was accentuated by his use of flame-throwers and a type of fire which can be described only as crafty. This fire apparently was em- ployed chiefly as a delaying element and as a means to create panic among our troops. It was discovered that the enemy went so far as to use fire-crack- ers, suspended from trees on long fuses. This ruse undoubtedly was used to throw our troops off balance while meeting the counter-attacks. Fur- ther, an extremely heavy concentration of artillery and mortar fire caused no little damage to our communications. Spearhead of the attack throughout the entire situation was the 1st Bn, located on the extreme right. It was at DUFAYEL (551678) that our troops encountered enemy paratroopers, who had dug themselves in an orchard. The fighting in this engagement was waged at close range, small arms and hand grenades being brought into play. During a lull in this engagement, Captain Heffner, carrying a Red Cross flag, ventured into enemy territory and completed a deal whereas our wounded could be brought back to our lines. The rules of modern war- fare were complied with in this exchange for the wounded. It was in this engagement our troops encountered full-bred Germans for the first time. The battalion kept in reserve in the rear (see overlay #1) were on a full alert. During the period of reorganization, a plan for the rota- tion of the battalions was devised whereby a front-line battalion was re- lieved by one in reserve. This permitted the men brought back to the rear not only to clean themselves, rest and put their equipment into shape, - 1 -
but also to prepare themselves for further operations. Despite the fact that they were taken to the rear, the men were kept on an alert status throughout. During the daylight hours, periods of snappy drill, calisthenics, mass commands, etc., were conducted to maintain the esprit de corps and splendid status of our units. Reorgan- ization of the units also was begun at this time. All in all, the men were in a happy frame of mind during their short stay in the rear. Foremost in their minds were the objectives to be taken in the drive to ST LO. Coordination exercises also were staged in the rear. This series of exercises, formulated to season the men for the op- eration to come, found a platoon of Infantrymen, a platoon of tanks, and a demolition team working as one unit and advancing on a limited objective. The Infantrymen, Engineers and Tank Corps worked splendidly in completing their problem. The problem saw the Infantrymen, in a line of skirmishers, push ahead to a hedgerow to provide a base of fire to enable the tanks to advance. The demolition team then blew gaps in the hedgerow to permit the tanks to storm through the openings and knock out emplacements, which, in actual warfare, might otherwise slow up the attack. The coordination exercises proved invaluable when our troops took up the main attack early in July. From 0100 to 0250 hours, 11 July 1944, our troops were subjected to a terrific pounding by enemy artillery fire. The enemy barrage played havoc with our communications, which were rendered virtually helpless. But our communications were soon to be put in working order. At this juncture, our communications men did yeomen work in repairing the broken lines. Their task was completed in a matter of only two hours, and con- tact among our units was normal once again. The enemy then put on a counter-attack which was ultimately to fail. The enemy attempted to penetrate a gap 600 yards between the 3rd Bn of the 116th Infantry and the 1st Bn of the 115th Infantry. Company K had to contend with two machine guns, two mortars and an "88". On the right, Company L opposed a patrol armed with flame-throwers. The counter-attack was partially successful until Company A of the 1st Bn moved in and stopped the bid. At 0315, 11 July 1944 all was under control and the attack was driven off. -2-
During this phase, the Regiment suffered the following listed casualties: KIA WIA MIA TOTAL Officers 5 4 0 9 Enlisted Men 112 290 20 522 TOTAL 117 294 20 531 Replacements during this period were as follows: Officers --------------- 20 Enlisted Men --------------- 108 TOTAL --------------- 128 Following awards were received by the personnel of the 116th Infantry, for outstanding actions against the enemy in Phase I: PURPLE HEARTS BRONZE STAR 46 8 During this phase, the following change in commanders occurred: a. Major Thomas S. Dallas, Executive Officer, 1st Bn, assumed command of 1st Battalion after Lt. Colonel Metcalfe had been seriously wounded, eff 30 June 44. b. Captain Eccles H. Scott, formerly Commanding Officer, Company G, was assigned as Executive Officer of 1st Bn, effective 30 June 1944. Once the 116th Infantry halted its drive south of COUVAINS (560682) the enemy had time to reform his lines and fortify the already natural hedgerow defensive bulwarks. In the static positions now reached, all effects were made to determine the defensive positions of the enemy. Evacuated positions were searched, enemy dead called for documents, attempts made to secure prisoners. Combat patrols, recon patrols, listen- ing posts, and etc., were in constant operation. During this period, the enemy continued in his defensive position, making maximum use of artillery and mortar fire, and employing strong counter patrol measures. During the entire period, patrols and listening posts reported the enemy digging in, driving holes, sawing wood, and pre- paring positions in general. Although, prisoners reported scarcity of mines, scattered mine fields were laid in front of the enemy position. -3-
An interesting demonstration of German regularity was the appear- ance of smoke coming from a chimney in ST ANDRE DE L'EPINE (554655) each morning at 0800. Each morning artillery fire was placed on said chimney; immediately the smoke would stop, not to be seen again until 0800 the following morning. This continued until the final attack on ST ANDRE DE L'EPINE, (557655). PW's from the 6th Company, 9th Para Regiment were identified on our right front. The night of 10 July 1944, the first sign of German patrolling was noted. A counterattack followed early on the morning of 11 July 1944. Enemy prisoners and casualties for the period were as follows: Officers Enlisted Men Casualties 0 2 25 -4-
P H A S E II DRIVE TO CAPTURE ST LO The Drive towards ST LO was slated for 0600, 11 July 44. Plans were devised in which our artillery was to fire intermittently to drown out the noises of our tanks moving up. The enemy aided in this plan, unknowingly. By the time our tanks had moved into position at COUVAINS (560682), our artillery and that of the enemy had ceased firing. At 0600, 11 July 1944, our troops set out to take their objectives, HILL 147 (545645), and HILL 150 (555644). At the outset, progress was slow. This was due to the fact that the enemy was in a position to follow the movement of our troops from HILL 192 (571561), a high and advantageous ob- servation point. It was the lot of Companies E, F, and G of the 2nd Battalion to pro- ceed to ST ANDRE DE L'EPINE (557655). Our tanks experienced considerable difficulty crossing the high and ever-present hedgerows and the sunken roads enroute. On the night of 11 July 44, the 3rd Battalion was ordered to take HILL 150 (555644). The 2nd Battalion, which had HILL 147 (545645) as its objective, was just short of reaching its goal. However, at 1300, 12 July 1944, the 2nd Bn came through to capture HILL 147 (545645). Another enemy vantage point which proved troublesome to our troops moving ahead was RIDGE 101 (543624). Early on the morning of 13 July 1944, the 3rd Bn of the 175th Infantry came up to occupy HILL 150 (555644), while the 3rd Bn of the 115th Infantry moved back to reorganize. The 2nd Bn, 116th Infantry moved back to the vicin- ity of ST ANDRE DE L'EPINE (557655). The 1st Bn of the 116th Infantry was then relieved by the 2nd Bn of the 175th Infantry. The main drive started on 13 July 44. The 2nd Bn, 116th Infantry moved out to take Objective B, (see overlay #2) a hill located near ST LO. The 1st Bn, 116th Infantry, also attempted to push forward, a drive which encount- ered stubborn hostile resistance. The Commanding General, 29th Infantry Division then ordered both battalions to hold up the attack and dig in. The 115th Infantry occupied a commanding portion of ground on the right, -5-
directly to the north of ST LO. The entire drive was stalled somewhat when communications with advance elements of the 2nd Bn 116th Infantry, were cut off by enemy artillery and mortar fire. The Commanding Officer of the 2nd Bn, Major Sidney V. Bingham, set out with advance elements from Companies E and F of the 2nd Bn and before the orders to hold up and dig in could be passed on, Major Bingham's troops had reached Objective B. (see Overlay #2.) On 14 July 1944, this situation found enemy troops situated between the 1st Bn on the left flank and the 2nd Bn in the right rear. The enemy also was found to be located to the right front of the 2nd Bn of the 175th Infantry, occupying HILL 150 (555644). With no means of communication, Major Bingham's troops remained at the edge of Objective B. (see Overlay #2). Their only means of communications was the 111th Field Artillery Liaison radio. On the night of 14 July 44, Capt. King, then Regimental S-3, took out a patrol and was the first to make contact with Major Bingham's troops. The 2nd Bn, it was discovered, had suffered heavily in casualties and was short of rations and ammunition. The following day, 15 July 1944, two volunteer patrols of 20 men and one officer apiece from the Cannon and Antitank Companies, moved out to take med- ical supplies, rations and water to the 2nd Bn. Lt. White of the Cannon Comp- any was in charge of one patrol, while Lt. Williams led the Antitank patrol. Unfortunately, Lt. Williams was killed leading his patrol. All the others got through. Two radio code words were established prior to the patrols departure. The first signal would be send if resistance were met on the way. If so, the patrol would stay and fight with the Battalion. The second code word called for the patrols to return. The first code word only was re- ceived by the main body. Early on the morning of 16 July 1944, the 3rd Bn was directed to take MARTINVILLE (526640); drive south and occupy Objective B (see Overlay #3) the highway leading into ST LO. The 3rd Bn CO, Major Thomas D. Howie, ordered his troops to attack with fixed bayonets and hand grenades to seize MARTINVILLE (528640), reorganized and move south to Objective B (see Overlay #3). This mission was speedily and successfully accomplished. Following contact with the 2nd Bn, the 3rd Bn began to organize defensive positions and then shared rations and ammunition with the 2nd Bn. -6-
Coincident with the 3rd Bn's drive towards Objective B, (see Overlay #4) the 1st Bn sent a section of Infantry and anti-tank guns and a tank-destroyer mount to the road junction at the river fork southwest of MARTINVILLE, (528640), near LA PLANCHE (519638). The 1st Bn also sent a reinforced comp- any to open a lane to the 2nd and 3rd Bns at Objective B, (see Overlay #4) thus securing the supply line between these two Bns. The Infantry section, AT Guns, and TD mount from 1st Bn occupied positions in short order. Company "A" experienced considerable difficulty opening the lane, (see Overlay #4), but ultimately succeeded. The remaind- er of the 1st Bn spread its elements to cover the entire position. Carry- ing parties with ammunition, rations and litter-bearers were then sent up to the two battalions to evacuate the dead and wounded. At 1015, 16 July 1944, the Commanding General, 29th Infantry Division ordered the 3rd Bn to proceed to Objective S, (see Overlay #3). Immediately after a conference among the company commanders, Major Howie, CO 3rd Bn was killed by three successive mortar shells. The 3rd Bn managed to attain the tip of Objective S, (see Overlay #3) at 1500, 16 July 1944, but later withdrew to consolidate its defenses with the 2nd Bn west of Objective B, (see Overlay #4). The 3rd Bn was receiving local counter-attacks from the south, west and north. On the afternoon of 17 July 1944, at 1600, a patrol of platoon strength from the 3rd Bn was dispatched on orders of the Commanding Gen- eral, 29th Infantry Division, to aid the 2nd Bn, 115th Infantry in the taking of Objective S, (see Overlay #3), from the south. Later, the patrol was withdrawn and the 116th Infantry was ordered into Corps reserve. On the evening of 18 July 44, the 2nd Bn of the 115th Infantry was ordered to relieve the 2nd and 3rd Bns of the 116th Infantry at Objectives B and S. (see Overlay #3). The Battalions then consolidated their positions and awaited relief by the 115th Infantry and 175th Infantry throughout the night 18/19 July 44. This movement to the Corps reserve was begun early in the morning of 19 July 44 and completed late in the afternoon of that day. -7-
The Regiment suffered the following listed casualties during the Second Phase: KIA WIA MIA TOTAL Officers 9 45 2 56 Enlisted Men 78 603 111 792 TOTAL 87 648 113 848 Replacements during the 2nd Phase were as follows: Officers ------------------ 74 Enlisted Men ------------------ 690 TOTAL 764 During the Second Phase, the following awards were received by personn- el of the 116th Infantry Regiment for outstanding actions against the enemy: PURPLE HEART BRONZE STAR 46 8 During this phase, the following change in commanders occurred: a. Lt. Colonel Lawrence E. Meeks, CO 3rd Bn, transferred to Hq, 29th Infantry Division effective 13 July 1944. b. Major Malcolm R. Weller, Exec Off, 3rd Bn, transferred to Hq, 29th Infantry Division effective 13 July 1944. c. Major Thomas D. Howie, formerly Regimental S-3, assumed command of 3rd Bn, 116th Infantry, effective 13 July 1944. d. Major William H. Puntenney, (then Captain) formerly commanding 29th Rec Troops assigned as Executive Officer, 3rd Bn, 116th Infantry, effect- ive 13 July 1944. e. Captain Riley S. King, formerly commanding B Company, assigned as Regimental S-3, effective 13 July 1944. f. Major Asbury H. Jackson, Regimental S-2, transferred to the 2nd Bn, 115th Infantry, as its CO, effective 13 July 1944. g. Captain Robert E. Walker, formerly Asst. Regimental S-3, was assigned as Regimental S-2, effective 13 July 1944. h. On 15 July 1944, Colonel Charles D. W. Canham, bid the members of his command "so long" and introduced the new Regimental Commander, Colonel Philip R. Dwyer. i. Major Thomas D. Howie, CO 3rd Bn, killed on 17 July 44. Major -8-
Puntenney (then Capt) assumed command of 3rd Bn, effective 17 July 1944. j. Major James S. Morris, formerly Exec Off, 2nd Bn, 115th Infantry was assigned as Exec Off, 3rd Bn 116th Infantry, effective 19 July 1944. From 0055 to approximately 0200 hours, 11 July 1944, a very heavy artillery and mortar barrage fell on 3rd Bn 116th Infantry and the Regimental CP. This was followed by an attack at 0205 hours, by 2nd Bn, 9th Para Regiment, on "L" Company, 116th Infantry and the 115th Infantry front. When the attack from ST ANDRE DE L'EPINE began, it developed that the 10th Company, 9th Para Regiment was disposed astride the road running south to COUVAINS (560682), 150 yards on each side of the road with the 11th Company on its right and the 2nd Bn on the left, with the 7th Company holding the right boundary of the 2nd Bn. This tied in with the position previously known of the 6th Company on our right flank. The enemy lines were inspected immediately after they were broken by the 116th Infantry and positions were found to be as had been developed during the static period. However, no evidence of the traditional German "defense in depth" were found. One single line of Infantry exceedingly well dug in and supported with self-propelled artillery was in defensive position. Once this line was broken, friendly troops made a right angle turn down the rear of the enemy, catching his AT and Cannon, and Special Units thumbs down. Our offensives was halted by a reserve slope defense on the nose of ground in the vicinity of MARTINVILLE (528640) with units identified as 2nd Bn, 9th Para Regiment, motor- ized platoon, 2nd Recon, 3rd Div, and the 2nd Bn, 768th AA. His defense was supported with heavy SP's and mortar fire. On 13 July 1944, prisoner captured, identified 10th Co, 9th Para Regiment also being on our front. The prisoner stated that counterattack was broken up by our artillery which knocked out 5 tanks (or SP's) in the vicinity of MARTINVILLE (528640). The enemy continued his defense with extremely accurate artillery and mortar fire on all moving or stationary targets. False orders were received on our radio sets and the enemy interferred with sending on any size sets. Units further identified were the 1st Bn communication platoon, 9th Para Regiment and on the 16th July 1944, the 3rd Engr Bn was first identified. Prisoner stated that this Bn was disposed astride MARTINVILLE (528640) ridge with Companies 1, 2, 3, and 4, from south to north; -9-
1, and 2 south of the road was also discovered to have at the front to be covered with anti-personnel mines 8 to 10 feet apart and joined by trip wires. On 17 July 1944, when the 3rd Bn, 116th Infantry broke in the line north of MARTINSVILLE, (528640), that part of the line that remained did not withdraw. The silent night attack with hand-grenades and bayonet are con- sidered excellent against the Germans. The enemy continued to defend in pockets. Indicative of the mixture of units are the identifications of 18 July 44; 1st and 3rd Company, 3rd Engr Bn, 2nd Company, Assault Gun Bn, 14th, 5th, and Headquarters Company, 8th Regiment, and 1st Bn Hq Company, 8th Regiment. Enemy prisoners and casualties for the period were as follows: Officers Enlisted Men Casualties 4 87 200 -10-

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