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104th Medical Battalion – 29th (US) ID – After Action Reports

104th Medical Battalion

After Action Report
29th Infantry Division – June 1944 – Battle of Normandy

I. A brief narrative by units of this Battalion follows:

Company A attached to the 115th Combat Team was divided into craft loads and embarked in LST 454 and LST 456 for the Invasion Coast of France at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer on the 1st of June. While awaiting debarkation, personnel and Officers aboard LST 454 assisted the Navy in treating the evacuated casualties. The company debarked in three (3) sections without suffering casualties and reformed as a functioning unit on 8 June 1944, made contact with the Combat Team and established a station South of Asnieres (620898, Sheet 6 E/6, Isigny). The first casualty treated was a German prisoner. Medical support to the Combat Team was given during the capture of Longueville, Formigny and La Cambe. Thus, it is seen that the company participated in the beach phase of the operation only to the extent of treating casualties aboard the LST and actual medical support began during the Isigny phase of the operation when the Combat Team drove south to cut the Isigny-Bayeux highway. Participation in the Elle River phase of the operation began with the establishment of a station on 9 June 1944 at Canchy (588867) and casualty evacuation was continued while the 115th Combat Team crossed the inundated area and seized the towns of Colombieres, Vouilly, Briqueville and Ecrammeville. Evacuation was hazardous since the causeway connecting Vouilly, Monfreville and La Cambe was subjected to hostile fire and this road was the only route of evacuation which was practical. On 10 June 1944, the station was established in the vicinity of Le Carrefour (572782) and evacuation of the Combat Team continued during the taking of St. Margueritre d’Elle, La Communette and Les Cables. An index of the casualties were evacuated during the assault on St. Clair sur l’Elle, Le Menel and the river crossing effected in the vicinity of St. Jean de Savigny. On 16 June 1944, a station was established at St. Marguerite d’Elle to support the reoccupation of St. Clair sur l’Elle and the capture of Les Foulons and surrounding territory. Participation in the initial assault on the defences surrounding St. Lo began on 17 June 1944, when the station was established in the vicinity of Couvains (551681, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) and evacuation of the 115th Combat Team continued during the drive to capture La Luziere. The company was established at Les Foulons (542691, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) on 18 June 1944. From this location, the company evacuated casualties suffered during the sustained drive on Villiers-Fossard, La Forge and La Fossardiere. Elements of the 3rd Armored Division were also evacuated during this period. Total number of casualties evacuated by the company for the month of June was (690).

Company B, attached to the 116th Infantry Combat Team, was stationed in Marshalling Area along the Southern coast of England. The company was broken down into nine (9) separate boatload groups, each in their respective areas. The orders came to proceed to the loading points at Portland and Weymouth, England, and the company proceed to the Hards and was loaded on the following crafts : (17) enlisted men on LST 412, (2) Officers and (12) enlisted men on LST 408, (1) enlisted man on LCI 32, (1) enlisted man on APA 5, (1) Officer and (41) enlisted men on LCI 532, (1) Officer and (16) enlisted men on LCI 2 and (1) Officer and (60) enlisted men on LCI 533. As the craft completed their loading, they pulled away from the Hards and anchored in Portland and Weymouth harbors until 5 June 1944. At 1600 hours, 5 June 1944, the crafts lifted anchor, assembled at sea and preceded to the coast of France. At 0800 hours, 6 June 1944, the first three (3) men of this company landed on the Coast of France with the first group of the 116th Infantry. At 0840 hours, Lieutenant Charles Giese, litter platoon Commander, with (41) litter bearers, landed and gave first aid to the men on the beach and evacuated them to a point above the high water mark. Two (2) squads continued this work while the other litter bearers proceeded through a draw east of Beach exit D-3 and evacuated 1st Division casualties to a collecting point on the each. They proceeded to Saint-Laurent, being unable to reach Vierville-sur-Mer because of heavy enemy small arms fire. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Ralph Maxwell, with (60) enlisted men had landed near D-3 beach exit at about 0800 hours and started to give first aid to the wounded on the beach, giving plasma and acting as an Aid Station. The (2) groups of litter bearers at about 1800 hours and during the evening started evacuation of beach casualties to small boats. At 1700 hours, 6 June 1944, Lieutenant Shelly with (16) enlisted men landed east of Beach Exit D-1 and began giving first aid to the wounded on the beach. They were joined at 1800 hours by Captain Lester N. Kolman and Captain Anson R. Hyde with (12) enlisted men and (6) vehicles, two (2) of which were lost when they attempted to land in high water. During the evening, these groups evacuated casualties to collecting points from the western extremity of the beach. The beach at this time was under a heavy concentration of enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire. On 7 June 1944 at 0900 hours, Lieutenant Giese and his men tried to reach Vierville, but were unsuccessful because of enemy fire. They then joined the 2nd Battalion of the 115th Infantry and evacuated their casualties from the woods South of Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer. Lieutenant Maxwell and his men began to operate along the Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer Road, evacuating casualties from the 115th Combat Team to the Beach and they continued this work until the early morning of 8 June 1944. Early in the morning of 7 June 1944, Captain Hyde an Lieutenant Shelley proceeded with their men to an assembly area south of Vierville, while Captain Lester N. Kolman remained on the Beach with (8) men and three (3) ambulances to complete the evacuation of the beach. These ambulances were later seen in the assembly area, but at daybreak on 7 June 1944, the entire area was covered by heavy enemy small arms fire from all sides. Because of this, the group returned to the D-1 Beach exit, but no contact had been made with Captain Kolman and his men. On 7 June 1944, the Company was still operating in the vicinity of Vierville and Saint-Laurent Beach area, and at 1330 hours, (17) enlisted men and (5) vehicles landed on Dog Red Beach under enemy fire and proceeded to Saint-Laurent. At that time, Saint-Laurent, Vierville and Pointe du Hoc were being attacked by our troops and various sections of the Company were supporting the Infantry units in the attack. At 1330 hours, 7 June 1944, (17) enlisted men and (5) vehicles landed on Dog Red Beach and then proceeded to the assembly area and joined the rest of the company on 8 June 1944. On the morning of 8 June 1944 at Augay (584932, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny), Captain Anson R. Hyde, assumed command of the company as no contact had been made with Captain Kolman, the previous Commanding Officer. Captain Hyde made contact with the various elements and assembled as a whole, the company for the first time. At this time, after careful investigation and search, it was found that in addition to Captain Lester N. Kolman, S/Sgt August Fitch, Tec 3 John Jenkins, Tec 5 Robert Temple, Pfc William Upcraft, Pfc Allen B. Miller, Pvt Anthony Cimine and three (3) ambulances were missing in action. Later that day the ambulances were found in field near Vierville but there was no trace of the men. A station was established at Augay and evacuation was by ambulance to a beach Clearing Company. On 9 June 1944, the company moved to St. Pierre (593942, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) in support of the infantry in attack and station was established at 0950 hours. Casualties were evacuated to the 624 Collecto-Clearing on the beach. On 10 June 1944, the company moved to Longueville and established a station at 1630 hours. Contact was made with Regimental and Battalion Aid Station of the 116th Infantry and it was found that the CT was a Corps Reserve. There were very few casualties evacuated this date. The (43) enlisted men attached to the company from the 104th Medical Battalion, as over strength for the Invasion, were relieved from attached and assigned to the 116th Infantry Medical Detachment as replacements. On 11 June 1944, the company moved by motor convoy to a point near Castilly (555807, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) and established a station at 2000 hours. The evacuation of casualties was light. On 12 June 1944, the company moved to l’Epinay-Tesson, (577757, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) arrived at 1615 hours and established a station and evacuated a good number of casualties to the Clearing Company. On 13 June 1944, the company moved to a location near St. Clair (565719, Sheet 6F/2; St. Lo) arrived at 1100 hours and established a station and made contact with Regimental and Battalion Aid Station of the 116th Infantry, who were attacking St. Clair. Evacuation of casualties to the Clearing Company was heavy throughout the day and night. On 15 June 1944, (4) enlisted men and (4) vehicles which had been left in England as residuals reported to the company for duty. On 17 June 1944, the company moved (1) miles north of Couvains (56387, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo). The company arrived at this area and established a station at 1330 hours and began immediate evacuation of casualties from the 1stn 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 116th Infantry and the 2nd Battalion of the 115th Infantry who were attacking in the vicinity of Couvains. Casualties were very heavy through the day and night and evacuation was made by ambulance to the Clearing Company. The company stayed in this area and continued to evacuate casualties by ambulance to the Clearing Company and was waiting for the Infantry Units to move forward in to the St. Lo area.
On 1 June 1944, the vanguard of Company C, consisting of (5) Officers and (92) enlisted men entrucked at 2315 hours from Marshalling Area, D-12, Helston, Cornwall, England for embarkation. The company reached the Helford control point at 0225 hours, 2 June 1944 where they marched (1½) miles to Helford Hard No. 5-1 and boarded LST 409 at 0350 hours. The ship weighed at 0510 hours, sailed (3) miles to Falmouth Harbor until 5 June 1944 on which date the ship again weighed anchor at 0434 hours and sailed into the English Channel. At 0620 hours, 6 June 1944, the amplifying system aboard ship gave notice to all personnel that the continent of Europe had been invaded by Allied troops. On 7 June 1944, Company C, intact, landed on the invasion beach at Vierville-sur-Mer at 1410 hours where considerable time was lost by snipers and combat troops moving into position. The unit marched to area (624928, Sheet 6 E/6, Isigny) arriving at 2010 hours. Remaining in the same area on 8 June 1944, the unit set up a station and treated (120) casualties. Advancing in support of the 175th Combat Team to which the unit was attached, a station was established in area (592889, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) at 0145 hours, 9 June 1944. The unit treated (64) casualties. As the attack advanced through the town of Isigny on 9 June 1944, half of the enemy set up a Collecting Station in the town, at which time it treated many of the casualties from the Airborne troops fighting at Carentan. On 10 June 1944, the unit moved to area (532790, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) where a station was hastily set up to treat casualties from the advancing units. At 1915 hours, the unit entrucked from (532790) and arrived in Lison, (535775, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) where it occupied the vacated Lison Girls School and surrounding grounds. (56) casualties were evacuated on this day. From 11 June 1944 to 15 June 1944, inclusive, the unit remained at Lison and treated a total of (70 casualties. At 1200 hours, 16 June 1944, the company moved to Moon sur Elle and occupied the Chateau immediately opposite the village church. (41) casualties were treated. On 17 June 1944, the unit moved to area (522712, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) arriving thereat 1435 hours. (130) casualties were treated in station. On 18 June 1944, a forward station was set up on what is know to the Infantry as “Purple Hearth Hill”, (516695). The unit stayed in this area through 30 June 1944, treating a total of (637) casualties.
On 1 June 1944, the first group of Clearing Company, consisting of (5) Officers and (32) enlisted men, Major Francis N. Mangald in command, left Marshalling Area at 2330 hours and travelled 28 miles via truck convoy to board LST 497 arriving there at 0445 hours. The second group of Clearing Company consisting of (3) Officers and (22) enlisted men, Captain Michael L. Buckley in charge and third group of Clearing Company consisting of (5) Officers and (36) enlisted me, Captain Phillip R. Turner in charge remained in Marshalling Area. On 2 June 1944, Groups II and III left Marshalling Area at 1530 hours and travelled (12) miles to Falmouth Hards and there boarded LST 337 at 1930 hours. On 3 June 1944 and 4 June 1944, the entire company was aboard LSTs in harbor. On 5 June 1944, Group I on LST 497 left Hards at Foway at 0050 hours in convoy a route for Invasion coast of France. Weather – poor. Group II and III remained in Harbor. On 6 June 1944, Group I aboard LST 497 sighted Coast of France at 1600 hours. Distance travelled – 300 miles. Weather – poor. Sea – rough. Group II and III on LST 337, left Falmouth at 0630 hours in convoy for invasion coast of France. On 7 June 1944, Group I in LST 497 anchored off beachhead preparatory for debarkation. Grup II and III arrived off Beachhead at 0800. Group III left LST at 1330 hours and landed on beach amongst heavy enemy artillery fire. Treated first casualties en route to bivouac area with the 6th Engineer Shore Brigade Clearing Station. On 8 June 1944, Group II left LST 497 at 2000 hours and joined Group III and bivouaced at the 6th ESB Clearing Company Area. Group II disembarked amidst enemy air attack at 2300, witnessed first enemy aircraft destroyed by AAA fire and bivouaced in transit area at Vierville-sur-Mer. On 9 June 1944, all three group reunited (4) miles northwest of Vierville and bivouaced in this area. On 10 June 1944, entire company left area (4) miles northwest of Vierville at 1830 hours and travelled (8) miles to Longueville, where 1st Platoon set up an Ambulance Relay Post for the invasion forces. Officially Clearing Station was not in operation but it received approximately (500) casualties in the (2) days spent in this location. Excellent care was rendered to casualties. men were learning things fast, especially the art of digging foxholes. On 12 June 1944 the entire Company left Longueville and arrived at Vouilly at 0900 hours. 2nd Platoon established Station and was officially opened to receive casualties from the 29th Infantry Division. A total of (144) casualties were received on this date. On 13 June 1944, entire Company remained in area with 2nd Platoon in operation, receiving (236) casualties on this date. On 14 June 1944, 29th Division Medical replacements joined company and were used as litter bearers in the 2nd Platoon Station, which was still in operation at Vouilly. (110) casualties were received this date. On 15 June 1944, the entire company was at Vouilly and 2nd Platoon in operation. (109) casualties were received this date. On 17 June 1944 moved station from Vouilly at 1330 hours arriving at l’Epinay Tesson with 1st Platoon in operation where we remained until the 30th of June. There were no exceptional happenings and only the occasional German airplane overhead at night to keep us awake. Casualties during this period are as follows:

16 June 44 : 261

17 June 44 : 386

18 June 44 : 388

19 June 44 : 298

20 June 44 : 200

21 June 44 : 214

22 June 44 : 123

23 June 44 : 125

24 June 44 : 116

25 June 44 : 112

26 June 44 : 139

27 June 44 : 93

28 June 44 : 76

29 June 44 : 161

30 June 44 : 137

On 1 June 1944, preparations were completed for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment to vacate Marshalling Area (195655). Left Marshalling Area at 2300 hours to board LST 497. Colonel Erickson, Captain Byrd, Captain Mattius, and Captain Hits and (16) enlisted men of Headquarters Detachment left Marshalling Area to board LST 497. (Group I). On 2 June 1944, Group II, which consisted of major Faries, Captain (CH) Johnson, Lieutenant Bost, Mr. Phipps, and (6) enlisted men vacated Marshalling Area E-13 and boarded LST 337. Group I arrived at loading area on Carricks Roads at 0130 hours for early meal and departed loading area at 0445 hours to board LST 497. Hq and Hq Detachment boarded LST at 1010 hours. Quarters were assigned to Officers and enlisted men and instructions to troops were issued. LST convoy consisted of (11) LSTs. Convoy left Hards for Falmouthn and then proceeded to Fowey anchoring for the night. Distance travelled to LST – 28 miles. On 3 June 1944, usual duties were accomplished aboard ship. On 4 June 1944 LST left Fowey at 0130 hours and arrived at Nenton Ferries and returned back to Fowey at 1530. This was a dry run. On 5 June 1944, LST 497 left Fowey at 0050 hours for invasion of the continent of Europe. On 6 June 1944, arrived at Beachhead, Vierville-sur-Mer. Distance travelled – 300 miles. On 7 June 1944 (127) casualties were transferred to LST 497 from Beachhead. Medical Officers and personnel of this Battalion rendered medical assistance and some major surgery was performed. This was due to shortage of Navy Medical personnel on LST 497. On 8 June 1944, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment disembarked at 2000 hours, reach Beach without casualties and bivouaced with the 6th Engineer Shore Brigade Clearing Station. Group II left LST 337 at 2330 hours. On 9 June 1944, Group I left area of Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and joined with Group II at Vierville (628928, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) Battalion CP and Division Medical Supply functioning. On 10 June 1944, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment left bivouac area (628928) at 1830 hours and arrived at Longueville (588882, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) via truck convoy at 1915 hours. Distances travelled – 8 miles. Weather – good. Morale – excellent. On 11 June 1944, usual combat functions. On 12 June 1944, Battalion Headquarters departed Longueville at 1100 hours and arrived in area Vouilly (549827, Sheet 6E/6, Isigny) at 1220 hours. Battalion CP and Division Medical Supply established there. Distance travelled – 5 miles. On 13 June 1944, a telephone communication was received from G-4 at 0230 hours to the effect that the enemy infiltrated the Carrentan-Isigny area on the route to the Clearing Station at Vouilly. The enemy was repulsed. On 13 June 1944 to 16 June 1944, inclusive, usual combat function. On 17 June 1944, unit left Vouilly at 1620 hours and arrived at (569762, Sheet 6F/2, St. Lo) via truck convoy. On 18 June 1944, a Thunderbolt plane crashed (300) yards west of Clearing Station at 1630. Aviator was brought to this station but was dead on arrival. On 19 June 1944, (8) enlisted men (Residual) arrived for duty. From the period 19 June 1944 to 30 June 1944, inclusive, usual combat functions were performed.


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