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2014, Aaron Elson









See You in Hell

The story of G Company, 357th Regiment, 90th Infantry Division

 Page 2

2014, Aaron Elson

    On July 17th, we were relieved by I Company of the 3rd Battalion. Our Battalion moved to Regimental reserve near Gonfreville.

    Here we had our first showers since arriving in France. During our stay here, which lasted until July 25th, we were able to get good hot meals, rest, recreation, and catch up on our correspondence. We also practiced some attacking problems, which consisted of attacking with tanks.

    On the 25th of July, we moved up to an assembly area in the rear of the 1st Battalion, 329th Infantry, of the 83rd Division.

    The next morning, July 26th, we moved into position at 0300, and prepared to attack at 0530.

    The attack jumped off on time, and we advanced three hedgerows. We then received heavy machine gun fire from our left flank, pinning us down. We discovered that E Company had not been able to advance more than one hedgerow because of this fire. The machine guns being out of our company sector and even out of our Battalion sector, there was nothing we could do about it, as mortar fire did not seem to affect them. Here the attack bogged down, as E Company had to withdraw to the line of departure. We remained there that day, taking a terrific slugging from enemy mortar fire. We sustained a few casualties. The enemy machine gun fire that day killed S/Sgt Albert Rodacker. Sgt. Rodacker had just rejoined the Company after being injured back in England. Actually this was his first day of combat. That night we used foxholes that had been prepared by the the 83rd Division.

    We settled down and made plans for the attack the following morning.

    The next morning, July 27th, the attack began with a heavy artillery and mortar barrage. A few of our mortar rounds fell short, killing one of our Sgts and wounding three others. All were from the third platoon.

    After the barrage, we moved forward meeting no resistance, except mines and booby traps. One of these booby trap teller mines seriously wounded Sgt. Julian Cabrera, communication sergeant, and tossed Capt. Regn about three feet in the air.

    We advanced forward a few miles, meeting no resistance. Finally E Company moved on the left of the 3rd Battalion, who had met resistance from across a small stream. G Company was ordered up on the left of E Company, and moved into position. E Company was the base Company, and as they did not advance, we stayed in this position all night.

    The following morning, July 28th, we were ordered to move at 0600. We moved forward cautiously, because of the booby traps and mines we had encountered the night before. No resistance was met, and we advanced several miles that day through difficult hedgerow terrain. But someone from higher headquarters, apparently riding in a jeep, did not realize how difficult the terrain was, and insisted that we go faster. Sweat poured down the men’s faces in tired rivulets, tired and brown with the sun.

    At last we reached our final objective, which was near Comprond. Here we learned that we had been pinched out by the 1st Division, and we had passed into Army reserve, from the 28th of July to the 2nd of August. This was sort of a rest area. We again received hot meals, showers, and plenty of rest. On the morning of Aug. 2nd, the Battalion moved by truck down the west side of the Cherbourg Peninsula by Coutances, through Avranches, and headed for all points south.

    We moved into a defensive area in the vicinity of La Mancellerie, and stayed there that night.

    In the morning we received orders to move to a new defensive position. About 1600 we moved out by foot, marching the remainder of the afternoon and early evening.

    Thursday evening, Aug. 3rd, found ourselves in the tall woods and thick brush in the vicinity of St. Hilaire. Upon arrival, we set up our Company C.P. and Capt. Regn carefully placed the platoons in their defensive positions. The first and second platoons were defending to the right and left fronts along the blacktop. The third platoon was to our rear above a huge stone quarry. Darkness soon fell, and we prepared to spend the night. Off in the distance one could hear the heavy guns of our artillery blasting away at the enemy. Shortly we heard the sounds of airplane motors. It was Jerrie all right, but they did no harm, dropping a few flares here and there. An occasional stream of tracers could be seen streaking towards their targets. As usual, S/Sgt Jake Parton was on his supply jeep at the trigger of his .50-cal. machine gun, waiting to cut loose on anything that came in range. Soon the planes disappeared, to bother us no more for the remainder of the night.

    Upon awakening on Friday morning, Aug. 4th, we found the morning sun peeping over the distant hills, and casting long shadows through the woods. We had our usual K rations for breakfast. Our platoons reported that everything was in order during the night. There were scattered remnants of the enemy in the surrounding hills, and we were kept on the alert at all times.

    Lieutenants Lovett and Brotherton reported to Battalion to receive Silver Stars, awarded to them for their outstanding performance in previous engagements.

    Our mission remained the same as the previous day, to defend the area we now held. At noon we had a hot dinner brought up to us. As the day continued undisturbed, we turned in our last order of names for the Combat Infantryman Badge. Capt. Regn felt that every member now in the company deserved the badge. The remainder of the day continued normally and in the evening "Bed Check Charlie" appeared. This is the name we had given to the scant Luftwaffe. As darkness fell, men were at their guard posts, checking in on our communication lines every hour. And so the night was spent quietly.

    We were alerted to move the following morning at 0600. This was Saturday, Aug. 5th. The movement was to be made by trucks. The usual difficulties of obtaining trucks caused a delay, so we sat around resting, napping and discussing past experiences, the war situation, and as usual … women. The trucks arrived and we left the area at 1200. We rode the better part of the afternoon, detrucking near the vicinity of the city of Mayenne. We continued forward by foot south of the city. We crossed the Mayenne River in rubber boats, a rather new experience for us. This was actually the first river we had ever crossed. Rivers had been mentioned to us before, but they turned out to be small streams.

    We continued on, and shortly occupied the high ground overlooking the city of Mayenne. In one instance Pfc William T. (Killer) Kent of Company headquarters was waiting by a road junction to guide our vehicles to the Company. Shortly two Heinies appeared on motorcycles. He immediately ordered them to surrender, which they immediately did, when they saw the menacing carbine in the hands of Kent. There was lots of tank activity in the town, several enemy vehicles being knocked out. The Germans shelled the city, causing some damage. The rest of the night was spent undisturbed, except for the occasional report of an M1 and the bursts of our machine guns.

    Sunday morning Aug. 6th we still defended the same area we now held. We had captured two prisoners that night. We learned today that we had a new Battalion Commander in the person of Lt. Col. Schwab. Major Domries was made Battalion Executive officer. About 1100 elements of the 1st Division were seen in our area. Shortly we learned that we had been relieved by the 1st Division and we were alerted to move at 1200. Leaving the area, we marched along the blacktop south of Mayenne. We received word that trucks would be along for us shortly, so we spread out along the road, resting near the brushes. Civilians soon gathered about us, vainly trying to converse with us. The children sat on our laps, looking with awe at the Americans before them. "Cigarettes pour papa" was heard everywhere. They all stared in amazement as we ate from our ration boxes.

    The trucks soon arrived and we continued on our way. As darkness fell, we halted because one of our vehicles had been ambushed. It was also reported that the highway had been cut between us and the 1st Battalion, who had been leading the column. It was decided to detruck and bivouac for the night.

    On Monday morning we were up bright and early, ready to continue on our way.

    An advanced patrol was sent ahead to reconnoiter the route for the convoy. The Battalion halted temporarily until given word to continue. This patrol consisted of four jeeps with .50-cals., and five tanks following. On our jeep was Lt. Lovett, S/Sgt Jake Parton manning the .50-cal. and T/5 Nick Doland driving. As they neared the town of Ste. Suzanne they encountered an enemy physical roadblock consisting of 14 Jerries. The trio on the jeep made a quick cleanup of the Heinies, killing ten and capturing four. For this action the trio was recommended for awards.

    A decision was made to bypass the town of St. Suzanne. We made this maneuver by going around the northeast of the town, and then cutting back on the blacktop. Very light enemy resistance was encountered. This consisted of a few rounds of 88mm shells, which whistled close over our heads. One round came too close for comfort. We heard the muzzle blast from the hill on our right. The missile seemed just to clear our heads, and explode about fifty yards to our left. Everyone dived for the floor of the truck. This seemed close enough for our driver, who was frightened out of his seat. There was a clash and grinding of gears, as the truck lurched forward, and we were off in a flash. We continued riding that afternoon until dusk, when we bivouacked for the night. The night was spent in a large potato patch.

    We were alerted to move the following morning, Aug. 8th, at 0915. At this point we were started on our great high-speed offensive toward the good-sized city of Le Mans. With Capt. Regn leading the company, we moved out at the head of the Battalion column. We moved forward in advance guard formation. Previously the 1st Battalion was leading. They had routed an enemy column. It was then elected to send the 2nd Battalion forward, with our Company in the lead.

    Our first platoon clambered aboard the five tanks, which were attached to us. With Lt. Berndt and his first platoon aboard the tanks, we started forward along the blacktop to Le Mans. We hadn’t moved about two or three hundred yards, when enemy machine guns and 75mm fire opened up on our columns. T/Sgt Lutjens aboard the leading tank was wounded in the face when an enemy shell struck the vehicles. The men all took cover along the shallow ditch which lined the highway. Things quieted for the moment, and the men boarded the tanks again. We started our advance once more. Suddenly, terrific flanking fire opened up on us from the right flank. We soon learned that this was friendly fire. Capt. Regn ordered all platoons to cease fire. It was reported to higher headquarters, and after several minutes the firing from our right ceased. Casualties from G Company suffered from this friendly engagement were one killed and two wounded. From enemy fire, one wounded. This experience had a sore effect on the morale of the men. They believed that a closer coordination of communication and whereabouts should be kept among Divisions.

    Darkness was falling fast, but we were ordered to seize Le Mans. Control of the units was difficult because of darkness, which slowed our advance. As we moved forward, we received interdictory mortar fire from our left front which appeared friendly, but we were not sure. We halted momentarily because of a small light that suddenly appeared before us. Upon further examination, we discovered a German vehicle with windshield wiper still running, and its blackout lights on. We also encountered many abandoned enemy tanks loaded with ammunition. We started to move forward again, slowly but surely. What the darkness ahead held, no one knew. Everyone was tense. We were ready for anything. As we made our way forward, houses appeared, lining the highway. It seemed that everyone was perfectly in step, trying to make the least noise as possible. As we trudged through the outlying streets that led to the center of town, small beams of light could be seen through the drawn blinds in the windows. Everyone’s thoughts ran along the same channel, and asked themselves the same question. Who was behind those drawn blinds? Things didn’t seem right. It was too damn quiet. Capt. Regn halted the column at a certain point in the city and sized up the situation. Soon afterward the rest of the Battalion followed us into town. We set up a good guard and defense, and prepared to sleep on the sidewalks of Le Mans. The sidewalks were very hard, and the boys very tired. They had no trouble getting the few hours of sleep that were left.

    We awoke the next morning, Aug. 9th, not knowing what to expect. Small fires were soon seen burning on the sidewalks. GIs were heating their coffee and K rations. Few civilians were seen on the street. It wasn’t long, though, before they showed their heads from behind doorways and windows. The blue, white and red flags soon appeared waving lazily over doorways and window ledges.

    Preparations were made to place our platoons defensively around the town. Before this was completed, orders had been changed, and we were ready to leave Le Mans. Up to this time several prisoners were taken. These didn’t leave hastily enough, and were hiding throughout the town. The French soon fetched them out for us. Occasionally one heard the cheering, applauding and laughter of the crowds that now milled over the streets. When the source of the commotion was discovered, we saw among the crowd a bald headed woman. The French civilians sought these women out and shaved their heads for being "familiar" with the Germans. It was quite a sight.

    As we moved forward through the streets the city improved in appearance. All sorts of shops lined the streets. One of the main points of interest was the huge Chateau, which the 357th Infantry Regiment was using for their headquarters. This same chateau was the former headquarters of General Pershing in World War I, and by Field Marshall Rommel, just a few hours before our arrival.

    Continuing on our way, we received a joyous welcome. We were showered with kisses and flowers, and shook hands with everyone. The people lined the streets carrying buckets and bottles of cider, champagne and wine. Newspaper correspondents, newsreelmen and amateur photographers took shots throughout the whole procession.

    We soon reached the opposite side of town, the northern outskirts. Our mission and objective had been completed. Le Mans had been seized from the hands of the enemy, liberated and soon again to continue normally. We reached our bivouac area about 1230. It was in the vicinity of Savigne, which was about a few miles from Le Mans. We set up our C.P. and placed our platoons into position. We rested the remainder of the afternoon. Things in general were normal throughout the day. Signs of darkness were approaching and we prepared to spend the night.

    The following day, Aug. 10th, was quiet, and the weather was rather nice. We were alerted to move on a two-hour notice anytime after 1500. It never materialized, so we prepared to spend another day in the same area. We received a new Battalion commander in the person of Major Jack W. Ward.

    Word was received that officers were permitted to visit the town of Le Mans, being back at 2200. One officer from each Company had to remain in the area. Coins were taken out of the pockets of Cept. Regn and Lts. Lovett, Berndt, Badgely and Brotherton. Odd man had to remain with the Company. The coins were flipped, and Lt. Berndt was elected to remain. The others went to town and returned at 2200, after a good time was had by all.

    The guards were at their posts, while the others slept, paying no attention to the Jerry planes droning above.

    We left the area at 0730 the following morning, Aug. 11th, moving out on foot. We walked until 1200, when we got a two-hour break. No resistance was encountered. We continued to walk again at 1400, marching until 1530, when we arrived at our bivouac area. We walked a total of 19 miles today. Our objective is the town of Sees. Once again we are alerted to move at 2000. We started out again and reached our bivouac area at 2130. We prepared here for the night. Adding six miles to the previous 19, we walked a total of 25 miles.

    It was a quiet morning we spent on Aug. 12th. We took off again at 1215. Still no resistance was encountered. We marched until 1600, rested for two hours and continued on our way again. We passed through the city of Alencon, to a point two miles beyond. This was our bivouac area, and we settled for the night.

    Along at midnight, enemy bombers appeared overhead, dropping flares and a few bombs a short distance away. There were no casualties.

    After eating our breakfast of K rations, we rested a few hours the following morning, Aug. 13th. We started out again by foot, traveling north. Our objective was the high ground south of Longuence. We encountered no resistance and continued forward until 1700. We had advanced seven miles. Our objective was reached at 1930. Our C.P. was soon set up, and the platoons placed in defensive positions. While Lt. Badgely was putting his second platoon into position, they captured six prisoners and knocked out a German halftrack.

    Things were rather normal when we awakened on the morning of Aug. 14th. Suddenly about 0800 the bursts of small arms fire echoed throughout the woods. It came from the direction of the second platoon. We soon learned the following information. S/Sgt. V.D. Ross went to examine the enemy halftrack that was crippled the previous night. As he inspected the vehicle, two Germans opened fire on him and fled through a gate into an adjoining hedgerow. Sgt. Ross returned to his squad and soon a small arms fight developed. It was estimated that there was a six-man enemy patrol that first opened up upon Ross’s squad, with approximately a company very closely behind. The Germans had a large assortment of automatic weapons and small knee mortars. Sgt. Ross sent Pfc. Patterson back to the company C.P. for additional help. Lt. Selig of the Anti-Tank Company accompanied him. Upon hearing Patterson’s story, Capt. Regn sent the first platoon up to reinforce Sgt. Ross’s squad. In the meantime an anti-tank crew attached to the second platoon opened fire with their 57mm firing three rounds. This seemed to have frightened and surprised the Germans, who turned and fled. By the time the first platoon reached Sgt. Ross’s squad, things quieted down.

    From this engagement, we had one casualty, Pvt. Woods, a rifleman, who had suffered grenade fragment wounds in the back. The second platoon was reinforced with a section of machine guns and two squads from F Company. The first platoon returned to its original position. Among the prisoners taken, one of them believed that we were paratroopers, because we had arrived so quickly in the area.

    Throughout the day, G Company took about 150 prisoners, of which the second platoon took 100.

    The well-known trio of 1st Lt. Lovett, S/Sgt Parton and T/5 Nick Doland, with S/Sgt Ortivez added, were the principle characters in one of the most exciting and adventurous experiences thus far. This foursome started from our center outpost to investigate the previous firing. On the way, they ran into several Jerries on the road with bicycles. The doughboys immediately opened fire on the Heinies, who scattered through the woods. The foursome set out in pursuit and patrolled the area continuously, killing the Krauts and capturing them here and there. By 1530 that day, they had captured the bulk of the Jerries in the area, killing 25 and capturing 29 prisoners. Captured Heinies continued to pour in all day. It seemed that the Krauts infested these heights.

    Later in the day, Sgt. Ortivez was killed, when the foursome returned to the scene of their previous episode.

    Nightfall was arriving, and the men prepared to "hit the hay." We had no more trouble with the Heinies, and so the night was quiet.

    We received orders the following morning, Aug. 15th, to move our company generally to the right. Our third platoon was placed along road junctions on the blacktop. While moving our C.P. and the first platoon, we came across and captured 17 Germans hiding in the woods. Among them were a Colonel and seven officers. It was a really grand haul. Presently German pistols hanging from the hips of the men in the company was a common sight. These Jerries were well-equipped.

    Our mission was still the same as the previous day. Prisoners still poured in throughout the whole day. The remainder of the afternoon and evening was quiet and normal. We sent out motorized patrols in the surrounding hillsides, capturing several more prisoners. Orders came down to be alerted to move at 1800 by foot. We arrived at our new area about 2000 in the vicinity of Cussaie, which was five miles from Alencon.

    On Aug. 17th, we again moved, this time by truck to a new assembly area near Sees. We didn’t stay very long at this spot, as we moved out shortly afterward by truck, traveling about five miles, and arriving in the town of Exmes. Our mission where was to guard all road junctions surrounding the city. Our platoons were placed defensively about the city, and the Company C.P. was set up in a building in the center of town. Darkness fell as we finally got ourselves settled, and we spent a quiet night. A hot breakfast was enjoyed by everyone the following morning, Aug. 18th. Quite a few civilians were roaming about the streets, curiously eyeing our movements. The cafes were quite popular. All through the day the men and vehicles of the Fighting French rumbled through the streets. The people were wild with joy. An O.P. was set up on a hill on the outer fringe of the city. From this hill, one could observe far to the northwest. The Germans were trapped in a valley, several thousands of them. Their escape route was shut off from all sides by the combined efforts of the Americans, Canadians, English and French. Only a small gap remained open for the Germans to flee. It was through this gap the Jerries were trying to make their getaway, but our air force and artillery support had different ideas. The bombardment and shelling continued all day, leaving a long column of fires and smoke, which was once a very much alive German Army trying to escape. Nothing could live through such a barrage. Wrecked tanks and trucks and bodies of men were strewn all over the fields in the valley. If any of the enemy did get away, it was by foot, as scores of bicycles were found afterward in the area.

    The Fighting French relieved us on the morning of Aug. 19th. We then moved out by foot to the Battalion C.P. area, to await further orders. We were now in Division reserve. After our C.P. was set up, and our platoons placed in their respective areas, the men settled down to some rest and letter writing. Everything was normal during the night. We moved by truck the following day, Aug. 20th, shuttling to an area in the rear of the 359th Infantry in the vicinity of St. Leonard. From the blacktop one could see and get another view of "Death Valley," the trap in which the Germans were caught. It was completely closed now, and our artillery continued to pour shell after shell into their midst.

    At 1900 we moved back to an assembly area west of St. Leonard. There was nothing to do but settle down and wait for further orders.

    Aug. 21st found us in the same area. We were alerted to move at 1700 that afternoon. Moving by truck, we arrived at our new area about 1830 in the vicinity of Nonant Le Pin. The weather was cloudy and soon it started to rain. We immediately set up our C.P. and platoons in the area, and prepared for the night.

    It was a clear morning, Aug. 22nd. There was really nothing exciting to talk about. Our area was on a huge farm owned by some wealthy French who raised race horses. Several fine looking horses were always about the area grazing in the fields. We had a pleasant surprise in the form of the American Red Cross. They served delicious hot coffee and doughnuts to the men. Seeing some good American women was also a treat. It rained that night as we prepared for bed. After raining all night, the weather cleared on the morning of Aug. 23rd. It was a quiet day. The kitchens were with us, and we had three hot meals, with steak being the feature for dinner. Word was received that 15 percent of the enlisted men were permitted to visit the town of Sees. Another 15 percent could attend a movie at Battalion.

    Again it rained in the evening. The weather remained cloudy on Aug. 24th. We were alerted to move at 1300. We moved out of the area at 1430. Our mission was to observe and guard the road junctions in our area. Today we learned of Lt. Brotherton’s promotion to 1st Lt. The men attended a show at 1830. We kept a constant two hour contact with the 359th Inf. Everything was normal and quiet the remainder of the day and night.

    Aug. 25th was a beautiful morning. We had a good hot breakfast. New clothes were issued to the men. We moved from the area by foot at 1530 to the Battalion C.P. area to await further orders.

    At 1700 the enlisted men attended a GI stage show, which was excellent. Also there was a motion picture at 1900 entitled "Shine On Harvest Moon." Everyone enjoyed the picture. They returned to our area at 2200, and were soon fast asleep in their pup tents.

    We were alerted to move again at 1100 by truck. We entrucked about 1130, and moved from the area. This was Aug. 26th. As we rolled along the blacktop and through the small towns, fruits and vegetables of a large variety were tossed into the trucks. The men ducked as hard apples and soft tomatoes flew by. We finally reached a wooded area near the city of Fountainebleau. We set up for the night here.

    Again we were alerted to move the following morning at 0800, Aug. 27th. We left the area at 0900 by truck, passing through the city of Fountainebleau. We stopped for about an hour. The men had a chance to see the beautiful city from the parked trucks and sidewalks.

    We soon continued on our way, and arrived in the town of Jours Le Chatel at 1630. We had traveled about 40 miles. Our platoons were placed about the city, and we set up the Company C.P. in a pretty two-story house in the center of town. The house was loaned to us by a very pretty girl, who later told us a very interesting story. She now lived with her mother. The father was forced to comply to the wishes of the Germans who occupied the town about two years ago. The father soon saw things the way the Germans thought. He left with them shortly afterward. In the meantime, the girl’s husband was now a prisoner of the Germans. He served with the French in the African campaign. Just the night before we arrived, three Jerries had hidden in their back yard when our forces came through the town.

    We also learned of an American aviator, who had been shot down in the vicinity and had lived in the town for two months, until he rejoined his unit.

    Our mission here is to outpost and defend the town against any possible counterattack.

    We had no disturbances, and the night was very quiet.

    We left Jour Le Chatel about 1100 the following morning, Aug. 28th. We moved by truck and arrived at our bivouac area in the vicinity of Viffort. The drive was very interesting and historic. Today we had crossed the Seine River. One noticed a great change in the landscape of this part of the country. It lacked the hedgerows that we had previously seen. The country was wide open and flat.

    Our Company was set up in the area, and we made preparations to spend the night. At 0730 the following morning, we left the area, and moved out by foot. It was a very rainy day. This turned out to be a very historic day for us. We passed through the vicinity of Chateau Thierry, a famous battleground of the last war. We also stopped to eat our K ratioon dinner along the banks of the River Marne.

    We crossed the Marne, and continued on our way. After walking 22 miles, we stopped at an assembly area to await the arrival of trucks to take us to our final destination, which was the town of Cormicy. We arrived in this town at 0100 the following morning, after traveling through rain and darkness.

    The weather was still cloudy and wet the next morning, Aug. 30th. We had a very pleasant surprise in the form of a huge crate of oranges for the company. They were really delicious.

    The day continued normally, and in the evening, our kitchen trucks arrived. There was a party and dance in town for the enlisted men.

    After raining all morning, Aug. 31st, the weather cleared in the afternoon. Sgt. Parton arrived with new clothes and equipment for the boys. We were informed that we should expect to leave the following morning. We did leave at 0900, Sept. 1st, moving out by foot. After walking about a mile, we passed by a historic cemetery in which were buried French soldiers of the last war. We also came across a Memorial dedicated to the famous 69th Inf., better known as the "Fighting 69th," also of the last war.

    Presently we reached the city of Reims. Here we received a joyous welcome. Civilians lined the streets four and five deep, cheering and applauding. Some of the girls threw their arms around the men in the column, showering them with embraces and kisses. Lt. Brotherton received the brunt of the attack.

    Our route took us right through and to the door of the steps of the famed Reims Cathedral. It was a beautiful and thrilling sight. As if in grim remindance that this was war, the walls of the cathedral were completely sandbagged.

    Enemy anti-aircraft and artillery guns were found wrecked and others in perfect condition throughout the city. The city itself is beautiful. A large variety of shops, cafes, hotels, cinemas and historic buildings line the streets. The city is famous for its very fine champagne.

    It took us nearly the whole of two hours to reach the opposite side of town. We continued on our way along the blacktop, soon arriving at our new area in the vicinity of Berru, which was about five miles from Reims.

    The kitchens were already there waiting for us, and we immediately had a very good hot meal. We had walked a total of 17 miles. Everyone was rather tired. Pup tents were soon sprawled throughout the area. Darkness was falling fast, and the men were soon in their tents getting well-deserved sleep and rest.

    It was rain that greeted us the following morning, Sept. 2nd. We had a hot breakfast. Men were permitted to the nearby towns. As the day continued normally, the weather cleared. We had a hot meal for dinner and supper. Church services were held in the small church in the town of Berru. This was Sept. 3rd. In the evening there was a movie in town for the boys. The picture was "Show Business" with Eddie Cantor. Before going to bed, some of the fellas had champagne which was brought in from Reims.

    We were alerted to move at 0900 the next morning, but it was called off. We remained in the area for the day, which was very beautiful. The day was highlighted by a stage show in town and champagne in the evening.

    After a very early breakfast the next morning at 0530, we left the area at 0700. A feature of interest during the march was the shell-pocked battlefield of the last war. It seemed as if one could see each fighting day that went on here. It must hold many a story. Also we saw the wreckage of four Jerry planes, three fighters and a two-motor bomber. At this point, we were picked up by trucks, and were soon rolling on our way. After traveling several miles, we halted temporarily, while our advanced patrols investigated a huge enemy ammo dump up ahead. They returned shortly, and we continued on our way.

    We stopped in a huge forest … the Argonne Forest. Our mission here was to guard this ammunition dump against any possible enemy entrance. It was estimated that a few hundred huge shacks were in this area, heavily loaded with ammunition ranging from small arms and fuses for booby traps to very large artillery shells. A good guard was set up, and we spent the night here.

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