1st Division - 16th Regiment - 2nd Battalion - G Company - Account
At 0115 hours, 6 June 1944 the Company was alerted aboard the USS Henrico and began preparations of disembarking into assault craft. Breakfast was given all Army personnel at this time, consisting of bologna and lunch on meat sandwiches and coffee. All equipment was then secured, and at 0345 hours the Company was called by boat teams to their respective debarkation stations and began loading into the LCVPs’. A very heavy sea was running, which created considerable difficulty in loading the personnel from the “Henrico” into the assault craft. Loading was affected by means of loading all heavy equipment and ten men into the assault craft before lowering away the boats. The remainder of the boat team personnel was then loaded over the side of the “Henrico” by scramble nets. This was extremely difficult, due to the weight of the equipment carried by each man in his assault jacket and the slippery footing created by the wooden rungs of the scramble nets.
All assault craft teams were loaded by 0415 hours, and the boat wave was formed approximately 500 yards off the starboard bow of the “Henrico”. The boat wave rendezvoused in this position until 0445 hours, and then proceeded in line toward the beach. All craft were heavily loaded, and the very rough sea encountered caused the personnel and equipment to become thoroughly drenched before leaving the rendezvous area, and all boats shipped more water than could be pumped out, causing them to be constantly in danger of foundering.
The boat wave reached the line of departure 2000 yards from the beach at 0635 hours and deployed with all boats abreast, and proceeded toward the beach at the best possible speed. Intense enemy fire was seen falling on the beach and as the Company came within 1000 yards of the beach this fire began to land in and around the craft, and increased in intensity as we moved closer. Great difficulty was experienced by coxwains of the assault craft in maintening the boats formation, and one of the craft capsized about 200 yards from the beach, necessitating the boat team to swim ashore without a great deal of their assault weapons. The remainder of the boats, however, succeeded in almost reaching shore before lowering the debarking ramp, and most of the Company was able to walk ashore. Very heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun, and small arms fire was falling, and the Company received a number of casualties as they proceeded across the beach. Approximately 200 yards inland from the waterline a small shingle mound about ten feet in heigh enable the Company to secure a slight amount of defilade from the intense machine gun and small arms fire that raked the beach, both from the flanks and to the immediate front. A large number of personnel was already ashore in this position, (having landed at H Hour), and seemingly were unable to advance onto the steep, high bluff overlooking the beach, and from which the enemy was firing. Most of the units were disorganized due to losses of Officers and NCO’s on the beach.
As soon as this organization reached the above mentioned position (time h plus 30) a hasty reorganization of assault teams of the Company was made and the 60mm mortars and light machine guns were placed in firing positions, and all effort was made by a few Officers and NCO’s to build up a volume of fire on the enemy to enable movement forward. A few of the elements of the 1st wave had succeeded in advancing approximately 100 yards in front of this position, but were pinned down and seemingly unable to move in any direction because of the terrific fire descending on them.
At approximately 0710 hours, Company G was ordered to move forward toward the front and managed to infiltrate thru a narrow gap between the mine fields between the shingle mound and the cliff overlooking the beach. The section of Company E, 16th Infantry, under command of 2nd Lieutenant Spalding and remants of two sections from Company E, 116th Infantry, were those troops pinned down at the base of the cliff. They were told by the Company Commander of Company G, that their organizations were supposed to be 500 yards to the right of this position, and to move inland, and to the right if possible. They, then, began to move forward and slightly to the right. As the Company G, sections reached this point they were directed to seize the high ground to the immediate front and to deploy from right to left as they cleared the crest of the hill and move forward as quickly as possible; alos to maintain contact with the two sections of Company E, 116th Infantry, on the right.
Two machine gun nest were destroyed and one prisoner was taken by 5th section, Company G, and secured the immediate crest of the bluff, thus enablig the remainder of the Company to reach this high ground and deploy in their movement forward. The Company moved out from this position in the following order from right to left: Sections 5, 3, 4, 1 and 2, with the light machine gun section attached to the 2nd section. Movement forward was accomplished under artillery fire and a number of snipers firing machine gun pistols at us. One enemy machine gun was destroyed on the left flank of the Company by the 2nd Section, and light machine gune section and three enemy soldiers were killed. This engagement took place about 200 yards from the deployment position. Two more enemy were destroyed by the 1st Section as they progressed inland.
At approximately 0900 hours the Company had moved inland to a line generally from 677881 to 685885.
Effort was then made to consolidate the Company laterally, but this was seriously hampered by enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire that came from both front and rear of the Company. Also heavy mortar fire began falling on the right flank Section, (Section 5). The 5th and 3rd Sections were then ordered to clear the enemy from the woods surrounding the road junction at 683883. The enemy was engaged on the left flank, and most of the fire was coming from the small valley at 663900. One machine gun nest was destroyed in this vicinity by the 2nd Section.
At approximately 1200 hours the enemy had been cleared from this area and aside from sporadic mortar and artillery fire falling in the general destroyed. The 5th and 3rd Sections had moved and were at this time forming a line at 682879-685879 with a few men from Company E, 116th Infantry Company C, 16th Infantry moved up into position on the right flank and abreast of this Company, but did not remain but a very short time before withdrawing back to the road junction at 682880. This withdrawal was made without notifying this organization of their intentions until they had already left. At approximately 1300 hours the 1st Section was sent into the town of Colleville-sur-Mer, with the mission of clearing the town of any enemy, and to seize and hold it. The 5th and 2nd Sections were ordered to protect the right front of the Company, and were in position at 683878-686880. One section of 30. Cal.HMG of Company H, 16th Infantry were placed in position on the right flank to a point 682878. Only 13 men composed the 4th Section at this time, as the remainder had become casualties. One 30 Cal.HMG from Company H, was also put in position at 686883 to cover the advance of the 1st Section into the town. The remaining elements of the 2nd Section were put in position on the left flank at 684883, but became engaged in a fire fight in this vicinity, with enemy located generally around 684885, therefore could not render any covering fire or support to the 1st Section as it advanced into the town.
The first Section reached the outskirts of the town at 1315 hours, and occupied the church and house due south of the church at 687882, where they become engaged with enemy at point blank range. Although three men were killed almost immediately and two seriously wounded, these building were occupied by our men and held. A heavy counter attack developed on all sides of the entire Company at this time, but was beaten off successfully with nine enemy killed in the town; four on the north of town by the 2nd Section and five by the 5th and 3rd Sections on the south, a total of 18. These were definitely know to be destroyed. The total number of prisoners taken up to this time was eight. This engagement necessitated a consolidation of the Company in an oval position as the enemy completely encircled us, and no front could be fixed. In order to contain the ground that had been gained, no further effort was made to advance and the Company dug in at this time and awaited the 18th Infantry to pass through and relieve the pressure on us. At this time the Company strength was 107 men and 6 officers, plus about 25 men from other organisations. The 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry passed thru, moving South-East from the road junction at 683879, which relieved the pressure from this sector. Meanwhile the 4th Section and one section HMG from Company H, had moved further south and became isolated from the Company to a point generally at 680877, where they remained for the remainder of the D-Day and the morning of 7 June. Efforts were made to contact this section, but enemy infiltration between our lines prevented this from being accomplished.
At about 1530 hours and continuing to 1700 hours friendly naval gun fire shelled our position in the town with very heavy fire, causing seven casualties. Efforts were made to stop this fire by firing yellow smoke flares. Contact was finally accomplished through Battalion, who caused this fire to lift. On the morning of D plus 1 the Company moved thru the town and occupied it, taking 12 more enemy prisoners and killing 5 when we became engaged at 1000 hours at 688879; we suffered 2 men wounded.
The total casualties for the Company from H-hour D-Day to 1200 hours D plus 1, was 60 EM and 3 officers.