NORMANDY BATTLE CHRONICLES
60th Infantry Regiment
June 6 – 1 July 1944
Part 1: June 6 – 16 1944
This article is the first in a continuous series that will follow each regiment of the 9th Infantry Division during their actions in Normandy 1944. This first part will provide a closer look at the actions of the 60th Infantry Regiment during the month of June 1944. After arriving in Normandy, it helped to cut the Cotentin Peninsula and pushed on and helped cut the Cherbourg Peninsula next.
The article will be updated as time permits, and when done, it will detail all the events for the 60th Infantry Regiment that happened between June 6th and July 1st, 1944.
Southampton, England 6 – 9 June 1944.
The 9th Infantry Division did not participate in the D-Day, the Allied invasion at Normandy. On the D-Day date, June 6th 1944, the division units still found themselves in England. The 60th Infantry Regiment was confined in Camp C-20 near Southampton. During the stay in this camp all officers and NCO’s were briefed about their first mission in Normandy, which was to be in the north in the vicinity of the towns of Gourbesville and Picqauville. However, these plans were soon changed as the assembly area was still in the hands of the enemy. At the same time of the briefing, all assault companies and platoons were also informed about the tactics to be employed. Their Olive Drab clothing changed to gas impregnated clothing and after ammunition, rations and various other items were issued, the men were ready to go. All the men knew too well what the task laying before them would entail.
A letter written by Major General Manton S. Eddy, the 9th Infantry Division commanding general, was handed out to the men of the 9th Infantry Division before embarking on their next journey.
The letter reads:
“Headquarters Ninth Infantry Division
A.P.O. #9 June 1944
Soldiers of the Ninth Division:
The hour for the greatest adventure of our lives is at hand. I have the greatest faith that the officers and men of this Division will meet the enemy as men of America would – with determination and a fury that will strike fear to the heart of the German soldier. No one knows better than we that he is not the “superman” his wicked leaders have tried to make us think he is. We know that man for man we are better than he.
Faith in a righteous cause and faith in our ability to defend that cause will win. A righteous cause is something that God has given us and denied our enemy. History does not lie.
With determined hearts and with the help of God, which we now beseech him to give us, we are going to win this war – now!
Good luck and Godspeed,
M. S. Eddy
Major General U.S.A. Commanding”
Trip to France: 9 – 10 June 1944
On the 9th of June at 1430, the men boarded trucks and left for the docks at Southampton. At 1730 the majority of men were loaded onto the “S.S. Empire Battleaxe”, an American built transport flying the British flag that had just returned from Normandy after bringing troops to Sword Beach. At 19:00 the men of the 60th Infantry Regiment bade farewell to the country of England and departed once more on another mission.
After an uneventful crossing the boat anchored off the coast of France at Omaha Beach at 0600 on the 10th of June. Here, the men looked in amazement at the massive array of ships of all types lying off the coast. Barrage balloons were flying from all ships, and, combined with those on land, they seemed to form a complete ring of defense around the Allied Beachhead. For the remainder of the day the troops stayed aboard the ship awaiting orders to disembark. At 2200 the ship hoisted anchor and moved from Omaha Beach to Utah Beach where the men were to disembark.
Coming ashore at Utah Beach and moving inland: 11 June – 13 June 1944
At 0830, the men were loaded into Higgins boats and were lowered into the water and disembarked from ships at Utah Beach on the southern tip of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy, France. At 0930, the first boat reached the emergency pier built by the engineers and soon all the men started moving inland into the 9th Infantry Division transit area, which was located one mile southeast of the town of Sebeville, about a seven mile march from the beach.
Assembly on 13 June 1944
The regiment remained in bivouac at this location until the 13th of June. A move was then made to the 9th Division assembly area one mile southeast of Picauville at 1600 in preparation to move into the lines the following day to take up the attack.
During this time the 60th Infantry Regiment was in VII Corps Reserve prior to being committed. Line and staff officers made daily reconnaissance trips in the area of the 90th Infantry Division with the expectation that the 60th Infantry Regiment would be ordered to pass through that Division when committed. Liaison was established with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and information of the enemy was obtained and passed down to the units.
Orders for the attack were received on the morning of the 13th of June. The objective for the 60th Infantry was first to take the town of La Croix Renouf and then to push on for seizure of the town of Orglandes. A meeting of battalion and separate company commanders was held by the Regimental Commander at the Regimental CP and the order was then given to move the Regiment to an assembly area 1 mile east of Picauville.
Area of operations terrain
The terrain in the VII Corps area of operations was divided into two compartments by the Douve River. The first, the area to the east of the river, between the Douve and the Merderet River, consists mainly of low, flat pastureland, orchards and small patches of woods.
The ground varies from 10 to 50 meters in height and there are no dominant hills. The second compartment, composed of the area between the Douve and the west coast of the peninsula, is bounded on the south by the Prairies Marécageuses, a marshy inundated area and on the north by the Seye River. To the west of the Douve, the ground rises slightly, culminating in a low hill-mass northeast of Barneville-Sur-Mer. This hill-mass rises to a height of some 140-150 meters and overlooks the Bricquebec-Barneville-Sur-Mer highway.
14 June 1944 – Actions at Renouf
The men awakened at 0630 and were told to eat, pack up and be ready to move out by 0730. This was their first engagement since the closing of the Sicilian Campaign in August 1943. At the designated time, the Battalion Commanders and Command Post group moved out. The movement was in a column of battalions, and the order was 3rd, 1st and then 2nd Battalion.
At 08:00 the remainder of the men moved out on foot and arrived 50 minutes later at a new assembly area just east of Pont L’Abbe. The 2nd Battalion was in reserve at this time. Heavy artillery and small arms fire could be heard a short distance to the front and an occasional shell landed in the 2nd Battalion area. One shell hit nearby and wounded 3 men of H Company.
The line of departure was crossed at 10:00 as was ordered and at 10:50 the 2nd Battalion moved forward to take up the area that was being evacuated by the 1st Battalion, who in turn was following the 3rd Battalion.
The 3rd Battalion was leading the attack and moved up Route des Buts Dores, the road leading west out of Pont L’ Abbe to La Croix Renouf, when it came under sniper fire from the hedgerows on both sides of the road on which they were moving at the line of departure. In addition, mortar and artillery fire also fell in the area. The stiff enemy opposition holding up the 3rd Battalion made it unable for the 1st Battalion to move forward as well. While these actions were going on in this area, some elements of the 90th Infantry Division were encountered and were passed. The 2nd Battalion took cover in the woods along the roadside awaiting further orders from the Regimental Commander, Colonel F. J. de Rohan. Although progress was slow, by mid-afternoon the two lead companies had pushed up the road to Renouf.
At around 1300 hours, a liaison officer of the 26th Field Artillery Battalion was with the assault company and spotted enemy machine guns and mortars holding up the advance. Field Artillery fire was requested and neutralized the weapons effectively. About an hour later, the weapons caused trouble again, and again a Field Artillery barrage ended the opposition temporarily.
Major General Joe L. Collins, Commanding General of VII Corps, Major General Manton S. Eddy, Commanding General of the 9th Infantry Division, and Colonel Frederik J. de Rohan, Commander of the 60th Infantry, all met on the trail where the regiment was advancing on and held a brief conference. At 1400 a 2nd Battalion Command Post was established in the 1st Battalion area south of Renouf, which was still occupied by a large part of 1st Battalion which was slowly moving forward. At 1630 the battalion commanders met at the Regimental CP. After the briefing, a meeting of the company commanders took place at 1745 where the 2nd battalion commander, Major Max Wolf, gave the plans for movement in assault toward the objective, the town of Renouf.
At 1850, the 26th Field Artillery fired rounds of High Explosives and smoke as a preparation for the attack, and after several large fires started, Company K occupied the main part of the town at 1800. However, not all resistance was cleared. Just before, the 2nd Battalion was brought up on the right (east) and advanced abreast the 3rd on the other side of the trail. While the 3rd Battalion moved fast and reached the main Renouf area, the 2nd Battalion had to deal with several enemy points of resistance in the fields just south of the road.
When the 2nd Battalion jumped off for the attack at 1900, it had Companies E and F leading the assault and G Company in reserve. The enemy position was heavily defended with mortar, artillery and machine guns and small arms fire. Each hedgerow was defended by the enemy and the battalion moved forward firing incessantly, sweeping enemy resistance in front of them. This type of fighting was entirely new to the men of the 9th Infantry Division as the type of terrain was so different to any that had been experienced before.
During this time, an act of bravery helped to get the men of the 60th Infantry moving. Staff Sergeant Paul Edwin Alexander and his fellow G Company men arrived in the area of Renouf from the east. Passing through an apple orchard they moved through a couple of farm buildings in the hamlet of Gottot and turned right onto the road, leading towards a small cross road junction. Here they turned left on the Route des Buts Dores and carefully advanced alongside the road and hedgerows. They then took a sunken, covered trail which led to a field near another farm house, located not too far from the main area of Renouf.
Staff Sergeant Alexander’s G company had been held up for over an hour by extremely heavy machine gun fire from the enemy strongpoint nearby. His squad was now given the mission of taking the enemy position out. It consisted of a buildup wooden structure and had 4 machine guns and 10 men supporting it with fire from automatic weapons and rifles. Staff Sergeant Alexander led his squad forward to attack the enemy position. As he moved ahead of his men across the fire-swept terrain with intermittent mortar and artillery fire falling nearby, Staff Sergeant Alexander was seriously wounded. Nevertheless he continued to lead his squad and direct their attack. He personally threw hand grenades into four enemy machine gun positions completely silencing the guns and inflicting numerous casualties on the enemy. Sadly, he died soon after.
These are the modern day views of the open field that Staff Sergeant Alexander had to cross in order to take out the enemy Machine Gun position.
Staff Sergeant Alexander’s intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life earned him a Distinguished Service Cross. Staff Sergeant Alexander is now buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France.
Another man made a big impact on this day, the 14th of June. 1st Lt. Joseph L. Rappazini of Negaunee, Michigan found himself in the Renouf area as part of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. He was shy and reserved, but that did not stop him from doing what he did that day.
While in a forward position with his anti-tank platoon in the vicinity of Renouf, Lieutenant Rappazini observed a company of the enemy, armed with mortars, machine guns and machine pistols, approaching his unit’s positions. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, he placed his noncommissioned officers in charge of the platoon with instructions to warn the Command Post while he moved forward in an attempt to persuade the enemy to surrender. Reaching the enemy forces, he was disarmed and questioned. In the meantime, the forward Command Post had been notified of the situation and heavy weapons fire was ordered to be brought up to take on enemy forces. The men in Rappazini’s platoon watched carefully what was going on with the 1st Lt. Then they watched in amazement as it looked as if the German soldiers were putting their weapons down and preparing to surrender! 1st. Rappazini managed to do just that! Thoroughly convincing the enemy officers they were outnumbered and surrounded, Lieutenant Rappazini took three officers and eighty-one enlisted men as prisoners! For this persuasive action of words, Rappazini was awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Joseph Rappazini survived the war, and lived a beautiful life until 2010, when he, at the great age of 92 years old, passed away after a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease.
After heavy fighting all day, the battalion reached the objectives designated for that day at 2330. At the crossroads south of Orglandes the 2nd Bn established defensive positions in two different places due to the lateness and darkness. Both 2nd Battalion and 3rd Battalions reached the point where the Valognes – Pont l’Abbe highway hit the junction of the trail by dark. Here they took up deployed positions in the fields bordering the highway to Orglandes, their next objective and used this all around defense while awaiting a consolidation of the battalion on the final objective the following morning.
That same evening, orders were also delivered to the 746th Tank Battalion to have its supporting tanks brought up by dawn in order to support the 60th Infantry. It had been a tough first day of fighting for the men of the 60th Infantry.
15 June 1944
At 0700 on the 15th of June, the 60th Infantry resumed the attack with three battalions abreast. It had passed the outpost lines of the 90th Division and was now operating alone. The 39th Infantry was still committed to the 4th Division near Quineville and the 47th Infantry was in Division Reserve.
The 1st Battalion made rapid progress west against elements of the German 1050th Infantry and the 922nd Infantry until it reached a point approximately 500 yards beyond the Orglandes – Bonneville road around 0900 that morning. Here it was counterattacked by four tanks and an estimated battalion of infantry. Captain Whitfield and Captain Swaim, commanding companies A and B respectively, were both missing after this action. The battalion was then forced back the previously gained 500 yards, all the way back to the Orglandes-Bonneville road. Here it was reorganized and placed in regimental reserve.
The zone of action for the regiment was changed at 1000 and a right boundary, an azimuth of 270 degrees from the Road Junction (where Route de Sapin and Rue Pierre Devouassoud come together) was established to permit the 47th Infantry to move into position on the right of the 60th Infantry. At noon the 2nd Battalion moved through the 1st Battalion, attacked to the west again and advanced to the vicinity of Reigneville – Bocage where it successfully beat off counterattacks and consolidated its position.
The 3rd Battalion advanced to the Orglandes-Bonneville road and then turned north where it encountered a strong point which was finally reduced. By midnight the 60th Infantry had gained 1400 yards and captured 42 prisoners. 4 men were killed and 175 wounded in the day’s action.
16 June 1944
The 9th Division order for the 16th of June required the regiment to seize Objective “C”, which was the high ground west of Reigneville and just north of Saint Clair and Objective “D”, the road intersection north of Reigneville, near the town of Pigard.
The 3rd Battalion jumped off at 0500 and moved out and were soon engaged in a stiff fire fight. The 1st Battalion came up against enemy soldiers defending a nearby field hospital.
The 2nd Battalion was committed at 1100 and bypassed enemy opposition and with incredible speed. It went around Reigneville to the south through the fields and finally swung back to the trail near Pigard and followed it to the main road. It was rough country, muddy and hard going. The battalion moved in a column of companies. E Company was leading with a platoon of Heavy Machine Guns attached, followed by F Company, also with a platoon of Heavy Machine Guns and G Company following F Company. H Company’s mortars remained in position until the leading elements of the battalion were so far out that the mortars could no longer support them. They were then displaced forward to be effective again.
Lt. Herrmann was in charge of the mortar platoon. The weapons were hand carried forward. Before reaching the crossroad, considerable quantities of enemy material was found abandoned, but there was no opposition at the cross road. Here, Captain West, together with the mortar platoon, caught up with the rest of the battalion. Captain West talked with the Command group and was instructed to stay at the cross road while the battalion moved on. Captain West then had Herrmann put his mortars into position to fire and waited.
In the meantime, at around 1500, the 2nd battalion had run into opposition at the crossroad. Machine gun fire was coming from the north from a group of houses up the road. The 2nd Platoon of Easy Company immediately deployed, infiltrated across the road, entered the orchards to the north of the cross road and, according to Sergeant Wallace Burr, “made a helluva racket with riffles, BARs and everything they had“. Sgt. Clarence Mobler and his 3rd squad and Sgt. Irvin Etzler and his 1st squad worked their way down to the houses and forced the surrender of the German defenders, about 16 or 17 of them, after they killed several. While this was going on, PFC Daniel Smith, one of the best gunners in the regiment, entered the draw just west of the cross road and shot several Germans to the north.
With Easy Company continued to lead with the 1st Platoon out ahead of the other men, they departed from the nearby crossroad and the battalion moved on across country, making a wide arc to the north for enemy tanks had been seen on the main road. While en route, the Regimental Commanding Officer, Colonel Frederick J. de Rohan, had talked to Lt. Colonel Michael B. Kauffman, the 2nd Battalion Commander, about the next objective and told him to try for the town of Ste. Colombe and attempt a bridgehead across the Douve. Soon, the 2nd Battalion pushed ahead, having kept up the fast pace all day., closing in on the small village of Ste. Colombe.
Actions at Ste. Colombe.
The Douve River at Ste. Colombe splits into three small streams spanned by three bridges connecting Ste. Colombe on the east bank with Néhou on the west. At the entrance of Ste. Colombe, right before the first bridge is another small culvert, but this was not counted as a bridge objective back in 1944. In this area, the river bed is narrower than the Merderet at La Fière and the ground between the three streams is relatively firm. Neither town has a particularly commanding position because the banks rise gradually and hedgerows in the area make observation poor. A main road running through large open fields with side brush connects the villages.
A pre-invasion map reconnaissance had been made in anticipation of the crossing of the Douve at this point. Intelligence had indicated that there were mine fields on the west bank, south of Néhou, and the 9th Infantry Division had considered fording the river farther north. However, in the fast-moving situation of June 16th it had been decided to make a dash to Ste. Colombe and cross as quickly as possible.
While the 1st Battalion of the 60th Infantry Regiment was clearing the area of Reigneville, 2nd Battalion started its advance towards Ste. Colombe, intending to establish a bridgehead over the Douve River.
Commanding the 2nd Battalion was Lt. Colonel Michael B. Kauffman. Kauffman was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, on August 4, 1913. He was brought to the USA as a small boy. Here he later graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1938, at which time he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Reserves. Kauffman served with the 38th Infantry at Ft. Douglas from 1938-39 and in June 1940 he received his Masters Degree in Retailing from the University of Pittsburgh. He then soon was hired as an executive trainee by Sears and sent to Salt Lake City. In September 1940 he was ordered to active duty and sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be in the cadre forming the 9th Infantry Division.
With World War II came a variety of assignments for this young infantry officer. He was the transport quartermaster for the loading and unloading of eight ships involved in the invasion of Africa, and served as the taskforce G4 (Supply). Shortly thereafter, he was assigned to command the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, and in that position Kauffman participated in four campaigns: Tunisia, Sicily, Invasion of France, and Northern France. Lt. Colonel Kauffman made it all the way up to becoming a General in 1967. Now, here he found himself in Normandy overlooking the grounds towards this small town of Ste. Colombe.
Taking Ste. Colombe and the attack towards Néhou
Leading the 2nd Battalion in a column of Companies, E, F and G, Lt. Colonel Kauffman swung across the countryside making a wide arc to the north as enemy tanks were spotted on the main road. With 1st Platoon out ahead, the battalion headed for the main crossroads just southeast of Ste. Colombe, intending to proceed to take the battalion’s objective in the direction of the main road leading into the village, mopping up small pockets of enemy resistance in their wake.
The men of Company E led the advance into Ste. Colombe. Just behind them were men of 2nd Platoon, F Company, led by 1st Lt. Edward Johnson. These men had been riding on tanks of Company B, 746th Tank Battalion all the way across the river. Entering the area first, 2nd Battalion pushed into the river bed through the aid of the tanks and seized the first bridge intact.
After arriving in the village of Ste. Colombe, the men prepared themselves to advance further. The 2nd bridge, located at the area called La Laiterie, or as the Americans called it, “The Creamery”, came in sight fast as well, and was taken without opposition.
It was around 16:00 hours when all three rifle companies started to advance from here on the 35 feet wide causeway towards the next village, Néhou, when enemy shells began to land. In addition, some small-arms fire was received as well. It was thought to be coming from the direction of Néhou, but this could not be confirmed at that time. Disoriented by the shelling, some of the men thought it was friendly fire at first because it appeared to come from the left rear. Also, some fire came from the higher ground to the south, just west of the Douve River. Instead of stopping until the other battalions could come abreast, 2nd Battalion, operating alone and with both flanks exposed, stormed aggressively across the Douve River. Arriving at the third bridge, Company E found it was blown. The men quickly took up positions in the fields on both sides of the main road. The three bridges were now taken and a precarious bridgehead across the Douve River had to be established in the face of savage German resistance. The men now had to put up a though fight.
Holding the bridgehead
The men of Company E had managed to cross the blown bridge and advanced a bit further toward the edge of Néhou and took up positions on both sides of the road. The 1st Platoon of Company H, with Heavy Machine Guns attached to Company E, had remained just east of the 3rd bridge and were set up. However, the brush was thick and they had no fields of fire. The enemy suddenly started with a heavy mortar and artillery barrage and sadly, one shell came in, killing 4 sergeants in the platoon. Word came back that Company E wanted a section of machine guns to cover the road as enemy fire now began to hit the company from the town of Néhou as well. Lt. Thomas Wiggins, commanding the 1st Machine Gun Platoon, went forward to reconnoitre, sent back for Sergeant Albert Shelby, the section Sergeant, but was hit while attempting to go forward. Lt. Wiggins died soon after.
The 1st MG Platoon was hit hard therefore, and since it was understrength in NCOs before the start of the operation, was now badly depleted. Now, 1st Platoon was thoroughly demoralized. Corporal Mack T. Quinn took over the platoon and tried to reorganize it. There were several casualties in the platoon, everyone was hollering for medics and men started streaming back from across the river. When the machine gunners near the bridge saw men starting to come back into their direction, they first thought they were Easy Company men. Actually, these were F Company men. All of F Company had reached the main bridge when artillery hit it. In the mean time, Lt. Allen had gone back to the 3rd Battalion for help and when returned he found his platoon strung along the road in single file.
What remained of the 1st MG Platoon started back also, more or less panicky as a result of excitement of the last minutes. The Mortar Platoon of M Company had taken up positions on the higher ground just on the eastern edge of Ste. Colombe and was firing into Néhou and the surrounding orchards. Its vehicles were in the orchards to the left of the road.
Captain West immediately reorganized his Machine Gun Platoons facing Néhou. The leader of the 2nd Platoon had started back with his platoon, for which the Captain relieved him because it had been done without orders. Having to deal with the shortage of leaders, Captain West dissolved the 1st Platoon, distributing the men between the 2nd Platoon and the 3rd (mortar) Platoon.
The 2nd Platoon of F Company, led by Lt. John Doxsee, stayed at an open stretch in the field on the right (north) side of the blown bridge in front of Néhou for about 45 minutes. It had been intended that they dug in there as a reserve for E Company. This was at about 19:00 hours. The platoon was about half dug in when LT. Col. Kauffman ordered the men to move back to Ste. Colombe, to take up a position along the stone wall by the church, astride the road and in front of H Company. This area was shelled by the enemy, but they dug in nevertheless, preparing to form a perimeter defense around the town. The rest of F Company had preceded the 2nd Platoon back to town and also had begun setting up a defensive position. The 1st Platoon, F Company under Lt. Allen dug in, in front of H Company to the right of the road, while Lt. Joseph Gallo put his 3rd Platoon in position to the 2nd Platoon’s left side. One platoon of G Company was in position on the opposite side of the road, across the creamery. All this was done by dark.
All these difficulties, the artillery and mortar fire, the fire coming from Néhou, the blown bridge and the shortage of ammunition caused a great deal of uncertainty for some time. American tanks were firing in support of the attack on Néhou from Ste. Colombe, but they also ran out of ammunition. The 60th Field Artillery Battalion was firing in support on the fields near Néhou and into the town itself. Companies E and G and part of F Company were getting direct fire from German weapons from the south. The Battalion Commander, Lt. Colonel Kauffman, had left temporarily to get ammunition. Major Wolfe, the Battalion Executive Officer, came up about this time and also sent someone back for ammunition. He then went to the 3rd Battalion to see if they were in a position to offer support.
Upon his return he found Lt. Col. Kauffman returning with a 2,5 ton truck loaded with ammunition. The truck, incidentally crossed the blown bridge! Kaufmann also had word from General Collins of VII Corps, that the 3rd Battalion would move in support of the 2nd. Kauffman had gone to the Division Command Post where General Stroh, Assistant Division Commander, had ordered withdrawal, but Kauffman explained he had a bridgehead established, although somewhat precarious. Collins was elated and told him to go ahead and hold it. One consideration in the decision to establish a bridgehead at Ste. Colombe was, according to Wolfe, the fact that it was an unlikely place for a crossing, St. Sauveur le Vicomte being a much more logical place. Therefore it had something of the element of surprise, and the Germans were not expected to have much force in the vicinity to prevent a crossing.
So it was decided to hold the precious bridgehead. All units were badly shaken from the fire to the south and left rear and from the town of Néhou, but at least ammunition was brought in! 3rd Battalion’s M Company’s Machine Gun Platoon joined Company E on the east edge of Néhou where E Company was holding out in defense of the brdigehead.
The attack on Néhou, the logical objective, had to be postponed until the next day because of the lack of tank support, the approaching darkness and because of the bad beating the 2nd Battalion had taken that day. Most of Company E went into position southeast of Néhou on a little knoll which the north south road runs along. Here it continued to get mortar fire from the enemy. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were ordered to disengage from the holding parties opposing them and to move to the Douve River to support the 2nd Battalion.
At 22:00 hours, artillery again fired, enemy and friendly. The enemy timed its rounds to coincide with the American’s fire so that it seemed at first as though short rounds from their own artillery were falling on Company E. There was general confusion in the units, and had been for some time. Units were badly mixed. The 1st platoon Company Headquarters and Light Machine Gun Section (LMG) and part of the 3rd Platoon went into position along the road first. The rest of the company was coming up, and was hit heaviest by enemy artillery. While the German artillery continued to hit them, Lt. John Butts of 3rd Platoon stood in a MG emplacement with a #300 SCR radio and directed the 60th Field Artillery Battalion fire on the town. By now, F Company had pulled back to establish defense of Ste. Colombe, with the Mortars of H Company. The battalion was “to hold at all costs” they were told. Being subjected to heavy artillery, mortar and small arms fire, the men of 2nd Battalion held on with all they had, but by now, ammunition was running low.
Then, just before dark, the 3rd Battalion reached the Douve River area as well and reinforced the bridgehead, relieving pressure on the exhausted and badly mauled men of the 2nd Battalion who managed to hold their grounds for 7 hours. Later on, 1st Battalion reached the east bank of the Douve River by nightfall. During the night, the 3rd Battalion moved through the 2nd and in the morning led the attack on Néhou at 07:00 hours. Néhou had been evacuated however. The 2nd Battalion moved north west on the trail, to the railway led by G Company.
By dawn on June 17th, the entire 60th Infantry Regiment had been moved to the vicinity of Ste. Colombe. The 9th Infantry Division was now in a position to drive west and complete the cutting of the peninsula.
For their actions at Ste. Colombe on the 16th of June 1944, 2nd Battalion received the Distinguished Unit Citation.
17 June 1944
On the morning of the 17th of June, the men continued to press forward, being weary, red-eyed and unshaven but with extremely high morale. The position of the 60th Infantry Regiment was that of a lone spearhead pushing through the German positions. At 06:00 hrs the regiment moved out in a column of battalions in order of 3rd, 2nd and 1st Battalion astride the Ste. Colombe – Blandamour – St. Jacques de Néhou road.
When the leading 3rd Battalion was temporarily stopped at the crossroads at Blandamour, the 2nd Battalion immediately slipped around the right flank of the 3rd Battalion, echeloned to the right and continued the advance.
Encountering strong snipers’ positions in the hedgerows along the highway, the 2nd Battalion infantrymen mounted tanks of the attached 746th Tank Battalion and with the combined fire of the tanks and infantrymen, fought its way to the crossroads.
Instead of halting at dusk all three battalions continued down the main highway to the crossroads just and to a position in the vicinity just south east of St. Pierre d’ Artheglise. The 2nd Battalion took the road to the town of La Valdecie and pressed on until 02:00 the following morning when it took up positions on the commanding high ground. The 1st Battalion was closing in immediately thereafter in the vicinity of Hill 145. Meanwhile the 3rd Battalion pushed on straight ahead for the sea where it took up defensive positions controlling the road at Barneville-sur-Mer. First honors for reaching the sea went to a 3rd Battalion wire line party which laid wire to the position in advance of the battalion in the hours before daylight.
By dawn the Cherbourg Peninsula was cut off. All roads of escape to the south were covered by anti-tank platoons, tank destroyers of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion and exhausted but dauntless infantrymen of the 60th Infantry.
18 June 1944
Just before dawn on the morning of the 18th of June, the Regimental Command Post, Regimental Headquarters Company and the Reserve Battalion, and the 1st Battalion of the 39th Infantry (less one company which had been left to guard the bridge over the Douve River at Ste. Colombe), was attacked by elements of the German 77th Division attempting to break through the line and escape to the south. With the support of the 60th Field Artillery Battalion, which was already in position in the immediate vicinity, and the 60th Infantry Cannon Company, together with ammunition furnished the Reserve Battalion from the 60th Infantry ammunition train, this attack was repulsed with severe losses to the enemy after two hours of bitter fighting.
At Barneville-sur-Mer, other German troops ignorant of the successful thrust to the sea, were surprised in an attempt to slip through the bottleneck at the coast, and an attempt to force their way out with armor, was repulsed by the 3rd Battalion. Such was the speed of the 60th Infantry in cutting the Cherbourg Peninsula that information of the American presence was not known to General Stegeman, Commanding General of the German 77th Division. On the evening of the 18th, five German M.P. ‘s directing traffic at a crossroads near La Valdecie were captured and at dawn. General Stegeman appeared near Crossroads 107986) coming from the north in the direction of Valdecie. Included in his convoy was an artillery piece and prime mover.
The first vehicles were allowed to pass before the Anti-Tank Company 57mm Platoon opened fire killing all occupants of the lead vehicle. Anti-Tank fire was placed the entire length of the convoy in sight and many vehicles were destroyed or captured. The General managed to escape, although two of his staff officers who were in the vehicle, were captured.
Throughout the day, the regiment was supported by the entire Division Artillery in breaking up repeated attempts by the enemy to break through their line and when the enemy finally turned northward and fled toward Cherbourg. The Air Corps assisted in disrupting the enemy with successful strafing and bombing missions on their retreating columns. A total of 216 prisoners were brought in during the day, and news analysts termed this achievement the first great success of the Cherbourg Campaign.
19 June 1944
With the enemy definitely sealed in the Cotentin Peninsula, the Regiment continued the pursuit by attacking at 0500 the following morning, 19th of June, driving northward towards Les Pieux. With the exception of enemy artillery fire, the battalions met little opposition, and advanced approximately 15 miles. During this movement the battalions were disposed as follows: 2nd Battalion on the left, 1st Battalion on the right, with the 3rd Battalion in reserve following the 1st Battalion. To each of the leading battalions was attached one platoon of Cannon Company, one platoon of tank destroyers and one platoon of M4 tanks. During the afternoon the regiment reached its objective (018165) – 04594) and on verbal order of the Commanding General, moved on to a new Objective, Hill 128 (039149) – Helleville (021143) – Hill 129 (012131) – RJ 85 (030130).
Contact with the enemy was made on this movement, and they were so taken by surprise that little resistance was offered. A large depot of rocket gun ammunition was taken by the 2nd Battalion when they moved into their bivouac area. It was in this area that the Regiment encountered the first prepared defensive positions of the enemy, though they were unoccupied when discovered. These defenses consisted of underground tunnels, railroad tracks for heavy guns and well prepared small arms positions dug into the sides of hedgerows and embankments. With sufficient time for proper organization, these positions would have been held for a considerable length of time against far superior forces.
In the afternoon of the same day, 19 June, first contact with the French patriotic forces was made by the Regimental S-2, Major Hennen, in the town of Les Pieux. A French Lieutenant in uniform had already mobilized a platoon of the underground resistance who brought in about 40 prisoners by nightfall, and a detailed overlay of prepared German positions to our front which he outlined, was transmitted to Division Headquarters. Earlier in the same afternoon a patrol from the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon had entered the town, shot and burned an enemy personnel carrier and were feted by the inhabitants of the town. They also captured a German engineer who had detailed information on the defenses of Cherbourg and sent him to Division Headquarters for immediate questioning.
20 June 1944
The attack was resumed at 0800 the following morning, 20th of June, with two battalions abreast, the 2nd Battalion on the right, the 3rd Battalion on the left and the 1st Battalion in Reserve. The intermediate objective, a line east and west through Vasteville (030189) was reached without resistance.
The 2nd Battalion sent a small detail with a mortar observer as far North as RJ 179 at (012243) to fire on a group of enemy observed moving about on a hill to the left front. The enemy returned the fire from the right front, and in addition heavily shelled the crossroads at (013214) at Vasteville and on the Hellville – Vasteville road at (030171).
It should be noted here that this terrain, from the 22nd to 26th grid lines and from the west coast to about the 06 N-S grid line is open country covered by ferns and hedgerows and with few trees. The enemy had mined portions of it and had erected “Minen” signs throughout the entire area. Barbed wire obstacles had been placed along the roads and ran down into the downs of both sides of the road. On the rolling hills had been constructed dugout emplacements, trenches and concrete gun positions. Troops moving in daylight were partially canalized to the roads, and the enemy had observation over most of the terrain.
At 1400 the Regiment received a new mission: The 1st and 2nd Battalions to move in approach march formation to an assembly area in the vicinity of 099244 and the 3rd Battalion, in the same formation, to move to RJ (012255) and surround the high ground there.
The battalions moved out at 1915, and the 1st and 2nd battalions encountered resistance shortly after moving out. By midnight the 1st Battalion was holding a position on the hill at (025208), the 2nd Battalion had established a defense zone around the road junction at (030209) and the 3rd Battalion had been able to move as far as RJ (012243). The Regiment had hit heavy resistance, in terrain favorable to the enemy.
21 June 1944
The 1st and 2nd Battalions remained in position throughout the day of 21st of June, while the 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 4th Cavalry Group at 2035. Patrols of the 1st Battalion reported that Acqueville (047204) was unoccupied and that Hill 150 (058208) was undefended, apparently having been recently vacated.
Patrols of the 2nd Battalion reported stiff resistance east of Gourbesville at (036210) and 1st Battalion patrols maintained contact with the 47th Infantry Regiment on their right. Though the day seemed uneventful with comparison to previous ones, losses at the end of the day amounted to two killed and thirty wounded.
22 June 1944
Orders for the 22nd of June called for the battalions to move in the line as follows:
1st Battalion at (027205 to move to vicinity of (045200) in order to form the regimental right (east) flank
2nd Battalion to remain in place in the vicinity of Gourbesville (030208)
3rd Battalion at Hill 169 (010224), to move to the vicinity of (030200).
All troops were in place at 1000 hours.
The 9th Air Force bombed the Corps objective at H-80, some planes releasing their bombs slightly in advance of the bomb line, and causing some casualties among civilians and friendly troops. The attack jumped off at 1400 with the 1st Battalion leading, the 2nd Battalion echeloned to the left rear in reserve and the 3rd Battalion prepared to pass to the left of the 1st Battalion.
The 2nd Battalion was engaged in a fire fight immediately upon crossing the line of departure and the 1st Battalion became engaged on reaching the highway running southeast from St. Croix Hague. The 1st Battalion, being held up, the 2nd Battalion was ordered to sideslip its positions and was moved abreast of the 1st Battalion, the 3rd Battalion going into reserve at 1930 hours. The 1st Battalion was counterattacked twice, once at 1930 and again at 2030 in the vicinity northeast of Acqueville. With the support of the 60th Field Artillery Battalion they successfully repelled both attacks.
The Regiment came under heavy artillery fire in the continuation of the attack on 23rd of June to the northwest of Flottemanville Hague (069215). At the beginning of the day the positions were along the highway running south from St. Croix Hague with its right flank at 052208 and the left flank at 047215. 1st Battalion was on the right, 2nd Battalion on the left flank and 3rd Battalion in reserve in the vicinity of Acqueville.
2nd Lt. John E. Butts was leading Easy Company in the assault on a tactically important and stubbornly defended hill studded with tanks, anti-tank guns, pillboxes, and machine gun emplacements. All of these were protected by concentrated artillery and mortar fire.
As the attack was launched, 2nd Lt. Butts, at the head of his platoon, was critically wounded by German machine gun fire. Although weakened by his injuries, he rallied his men and directed 1 squad to make a flanking movement while he alone made a frontal assault to draw the hostile fire upon himself. Once more he was struck, but by grim determination and sheer courage continued to crawl ahead. When within 10 yards of his objective, he was killed by direct fire.
By his superb courage, unflinching valor and inspiring actions, 2nd Lt. Butts enabled his platoon to take the formidable strong point and this gain contributed greatly to the success of his battalion’s mission.
During the morning both battalions battled their way through trails and pastures, improving their positions and at noon, were on the southeast slopes the hill northwest of the town, with the right flank of the 1st Battalion at 065216 and the left flank of the 2nd Battalion at 054224.
In this assault, the Battalions necessarily exposed their flanks. It was from these flanks that they came under a terrific cross fire of 88s and a high velocity, flat trajectory weapon.
At 1615 orders were received to attack and capture objective 13 (072158) 063225 before dark. A bombing mission on 19 (076218 – 073229) near Tonneville, to the north of Objective 13, was scheduled and an artillery preparation was called for objective 13. The planes appeared at 20:00 and the artillery barrage started at 2030. It was completed by 2040 and the attack jumped off immediately. Less than two hours later, at 2225, the 1st Battalion was on the objective and was digging in. The 2nd Battalion reported itself 100 yards short of the objective. The Battalion occupied a position north of RJ 130 (048215) and with one company relieved the 2nd Battalion’s strong point on the high ground at (058223). The Regiment had over 100 casualties for the day’s engagement.
23 – 24 June 1944
For the next four days the mission of the 60th was to protect the north flank of the Division from its position while the 47th and 39th Infantry were sent to capture Cherbourg. On the first day strong patrols were sent out to mop up enemy strong points in the Regiment’s rear and to reconnoiter to the north and east. Front line units were subject to artillery and mortar fire throughout the day and the day’s casualties were estimated at 10 KIA and 81 WIA.
25 June 1944
The Regiment continued its mission of defending the north flank from its present position on 25th of June. Active patrolling took place with small actions resulting. Sporadic artillery fire fell in the area of the Regiment and the patrols’ missions among other things were to locate the positions of these guns to permit counter-battery. Patrols of the battalions, Intelligence and Reconnaissance Section, and those of the 9th Reconnaissance Troop, coordinating with patrols of the 4th Cavalry Group, made complete circuits to the north and east and several times located guns that were fired upon by our artillery. At 1900 the 1st Battalion was directed to relieve the 1st Battalion of the 39th Infantry and to go under Division Control.
A platoon of the 2nd Battalion was sent to Objective 19 and the battalion moved to its right to cover the 1st Battalion gap.
26 June 1944
On the 26th of June, combat patrols continued to work northward aggressively and reached St. Croix Hague and Rue D’Ozouville. Artillery continued to fall into the regimental area from time to time, causing light casualties.
27 June 1944
The Regiment continued on its mission of defending the north flank of the Division the following day, 27th of June, the day Cherbourg officially was opened. That afternoon the patrols pulled in a prize package of 300 prisoners from the area between Flottemanville Hague to Heneville. The 1st Battalion reverted to Regimental control at 1800 and at 2000 was moving into position on the high ground west of St. Croix Hague. At the end of the day the regiment was disposed in preparation for an attack ordered for the 29th of June.
28 June 1944
On the 28th the Regimental CP moved from its bivouac north of Vasteville (031193) to establish a CP on the Gourbesville-Flottemanville Hague road at (048215) in preparation for the attack. The Regiment was disposed of for the attack orders for 0700 the following morning. Patrols were active during the day.
29 June 1944
On the morning of the 29th of June, the Regiment jumped off for the attack with the 1st Battalion on the left, 3rd Battalion on the right and the 2nd Battalion in reserve, each with a platoon of Company B of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion and a platoon of Company C of the 746th Tank Battalion attached. In addition, Company B of the 87th Chemical Battalion (4.2 inch mortars) was attached to the 1st Battalion.
The 1st Battalion jumped off from Hill 181 (024233), the 3rd Battalion jumped off from Hill 174 (044226). This terrain was described previously. It is open, bare of trees and is covered with low bushes and dug-in emplacements. Both assault battalions ran into heavy small arms, mortar and artillery fire. The tanks attached to the 1st Battalion moved along the unimproved trail cautiously until their turrets were out of defilade. The assault troops of the 1sts Battalion advanced to the right of the trail and about noon, reached the main Beaumont Hague – St. Croix Hague Road where they received fire from the woods across the road.
A Company was held up by this strong point, which also contained a pillbox, and B Company was sent around to the left flank. In the afternoon it was cleaned up and the Battalion advanced to the left in the area of the next objective. At about 1745 the Battalion received fire from its left flank, pinning down B and C Companies, while A Company was sent around to the southwest to flank the enemy. Meanwhile the 3rd Battalion made a wide sweeping movement to the north to the road junction south of Fleury (020265) before swinging south and west, moving cross country to get to Objective B from the right flank. The Battalion ran into heavy artillery fire, but this was cleaned up by 1245. Fire from tanks, employed as moving artillery pieces, created a nuisance in the sector of the 3rd Battalion’s advance and made vehicular traffic a serious problem. The 60th Field Artillery Battalion fired a 20 minute concentration at tanks which were reported to be attacking in this area. Strong sniper and mortar defensive action was encountered throughout the advance to Objective B. The 3rd Battalion also reported casualties from mines in the vicinity of Objective B.
The 2nd Battalion followed the advance of the 3rd Battalion and at night was in position to the rear of the 3rd Battalion in the vicinity of Road Junction 167 (014255). Objective B was finally cleared of the enemy and the 1st and 3rd Battalions were in position, the 1st at 005255, the 3rd at 007264. Casualties for the day were about 123 killed and wounded.
30 June 1944
The enemy’s determined and furious resistance continued in the early hours of this day, 30th of June. The 1st Battalion was pinned down by fire and was unable to reach the Line of Departure. The 3rd Battalion advanced some 200 yards beyond the Line of Departure before it was stopped. The 2nd Battalion was then committed along the axis of advance, the main road running north-west to Beaumont-Hague. Men were loaded on tanks and used the same tactics it used successfully in forging the spearhead on the west bank of the Douve River. Soon, the battalion seized Beaumont – Hague at 1100 hours. Three bombing missions on the town had been flown the previous days and the village was badly battered.
In the afternoon, enemy resistance suddenly seemed to break. The 1st Battalion moved northwest across country, cutting the road running southwest from Beaumont – Hague to Vauville and continued on the La Rue de Beaumont, where it occupied a strong German flak battery position. The 3rd Battalion advanced north of the road to a position north of Beaumont-Hague, capturing the Hill 182. The 2nd Battalion took control of the area and continued on the road to the west.
Prisoners were coming into the enclosure in droves. Whole platoons and companies were routed out of positions. The three battalions continued their three pronged advance towards the reports strong defensive positions of Landes de Jobourg with little resistance. The 1st Battalion continued its advance from the left (west flank) by way of Herqueville, while the 3rd Battalion closed in from the right, and the 2nd Battalion drove ahead between the two proceeding along the main road.
By 2000 hours, the 60th Infantry Regiment had closed into the area, the 1st Battalion north of the road at 288945, the 2nd Battalion at crossroads 174 near Jobourg and the 3rd Battalion at (947292). 1300 prisoners were captured that day and a large number of vehicles of all sorts, from Sedans to trucks and tractors. And although one or two tanks and a few artillery pieces still uncaptured continued to throw shells into the Regimental bivouac area that rainy dismal night, resistance in the Cherbourg Peninsula to all extent and purposes was over.
A few snipers were still at large and did some damage before surrendering or being mopped up.
1 July 1944
On this day, there were no active operations. For the first time since the beginning of the Normandy actions, the regiment had no losses, none killed and none wounded. Some 71 prisoners turned themselves in. Preparations were made for a movement south, starting at 0840 on the 2nd of July, for a short rest before resuming action.
2 July 1944
On the 2nd of July the 60th Infantry Regiment moved into a rest area approximately two miles south of Les Pieux, for a much needed and well deserved rest after 18 continuous days on the front lines.