Headquarters Company – 2nd Battalion – 116th Infantry Regiment
After Action Report
29th Infantry Division – June 1944 – Battle of Normandy
116-2 Hq Co landed at the right end of Dog Red Beach at exactly H plus 30. This was its proper area, but the boats which were supposed to have landed on this beach 30 minutes earlier had landed elsewhere. Consequently, Hq was the first group to move into this part of the beach. Looking forward from the boats, the men saw nothing untoward. They were no troops ahead of them. The sand was perfectly smooth. They heard few of the sounds of battle. The top of the height was covered by smoke but even this was not particularly alarming. Confidence grew, the nearer that they came to the beach.
The five boats came in at the same time as “H” and were directly on its right. The ramps were dropped. The men began to move out. Then bullet fire began to cut into them. Those who had already started frd in some cases tried to find refuge behind the tanks, and as with “H”, found that they had simply made themselves targets for the arty. Perhaps 20 to 30 men so refuged ; the tanks were standing out in about 2 feet of water, looking for targets on the hill, and were convenient to their purpose. Chaplain Reed, with 7 of the men, got behind one tank. Reed stood between the tank and the trailler. Suddenly the tank started away. Reed’s leg was caught under the track of the trailer and badly injured. Before he could move, or the other men beak away from where they were standing, an arty shell burst over them. One large shard from it cut half S/Sgt Arthur Woods’ neck away and he feel flat on his face, killed instantly. Several of the other men were struck. Reed started crawling inshore, dragging the wounded leg. The tide was now racing in. He found that by crawling as fast as possible, he could just keep up with the tide.
Others were dropping as they came off the boats or tried to get across the sands. The Battalion S3, Captain Sherman Burroughs, fell dead from bullet fire as he left his boat. Captain Robert DeWitt, Bn Surgeon, fell with shrapnel wounds in his face and leg. The ranks were thinned mainly in the interval of passage from the boats to the sands. Major Sydney Bingham, Battalion Comm, lead the main body frd to the sea wall. (Bingham was already on the beach.) There the CP was set up, and there the main elements of Hq remained all day “pinned by fire”. “Although automatic and arty fire harrassed them at times, it was the ubiquity of sniper fire which was the chief cause of the immobilization of the personnel. (Five of the medics had been killed getting off the boats.) At about 0900, Captain Cawthon, comm Hq, was giving an order to two of his men to move against a sniper whom he had located in a bldg just off the beach when a piece of shrapnel went, through both cheeks. Because he was talking and had his mouth open, the fragment missed his jaw. The blood continued to drip down his face and over his shirt from the wound, but he remained with the Co and continued to lead it. The men moved frd with the rest of the Bn. late in the evening.
Major Chase R. Cawthorn, Battalion Comm, and Hq Co Comm at time on landing, and with Captain Charles D. Reed, Chaplain.