Frank Peregory – Medal of Honor – 29th Infantry Division
Frank Peregory, Medal of Honor, killed in action on June 14, 1944.
Frank Peregory, born April 10, 1915 in Esmont, Virginia, USA, belongs to Company K, 3rd Battalion of the 116th Infantry Regiment, in the US 29th Infantry Division. On June 6, 1944, he landed on Omaha Beach with his unit which suffered high losses. Indeed, nearly 2,500 American soldiers were put out of action during this bloody day.
On the evening of June 6, the war was still far from over for the men of the 116th regiment of the 29th Infantry Division, and they were charged with a very urgent mission: to make way towards Grandcamp to reinforce the Rangers fighting at the Pointe du Hoc battery. The latter landed after 7 am on Tuesday 6 June, and were charged with destroying formidable German guns. But no reinforcement can be sent to them by the sea, and they are now surrounded by the Germans, controlling only a thin strip of land sinking a small kilometer inland. Faced with incessant counter-attacks, the small hundred surviving Rangers demanded support from the navy, which carried out numerous shootings in the area.
According to the plans initially planned, the Rangers must advance to Osmanville, reinforced by the men from Omaha, namely the soldiers of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division supported by Sherman tanks. The junction must be June 6th. But, hardened by the landing on Omaha, the reinforcements only reach the western outskirts of Vierville-sur-Mer, at a distance of nearly ten kilometers with the Pointe du Hoc. On the night of June 6 to 7, German patrols cross the weak American lines and sow confusion.
The reinforcement of the 116th Infantry Regiment resumed the following day, but the nature of the terrain was conducive to defense, and German soldiers took advantage of this opportunity, preventing the US troops from advancing rapidly and inflicting heavy casualties. And it was only two days later, on the morning of June 8, 1944, that the infantry of the 116th Regiment, supported by the Sherman tanks, reached Pointe du Hoc where the Germans were preparing to give the coup de grace against the 90 survivors, many of them injured, out of 225 having landed in front of the German Hoc battery on 6 June.
After joining Colonel Rudder’s Rangers, Frank Peregory and his brothers-in-arms of the 116th Infantry Regiment headed the villages of Grandcamp and Maisy, three and four kilometers respectively from Pointe du Hoc.
The village of Grandcamp is situated on a small hill, and the Germans took advantage of this geographical situation to install machine gun nests, trenches, barbed wire networks and small bunkers, prohibiting access to the city. The advanced elements of the 3rd Battalion of the 116th Regiment are stopped by the grazing shot of a German heavy machine gun, located in a tobruk (reinforced concrete shed with 360° circular opening to receive a machine gun) at the top of the road at the eastern entrance to Grandcamp.
Immediately, the Americans demanded support from their artillery and armored tanks nearby. Despite this support and the repeated assaults by soldiers of the 116th Regiment, the German position resists and its defenders forbid access to the village.
On his own initiative, the Technical-Sergeant Frank Peregory progresses towards the German fortified point despite fired shots. Having reached the summit of the hill, he discovered the entrance of a network of trenches which leads to the center of the point of support, situated two hundred yards further on.
Without hesitating for a second, it enters the main trench and progresses inside while being crouched. Suddenly, he encounters a group of enemy infantrymen and without losing time he attacks the Germans with his bayonet and while throwing grenades. Eight enemy soldiers are killed, three surrender.
But it is not yet finished for Frank Peregory, who continues to advance in the network of trenches. He forces thirty-two more German soldiers, as well as heavy machine gun servants, to surrender, enabling the elements of the 3rd Battalion to advance and secure the area.
In total, Frank Peregory alone obtained the surrender of nearly forty enemy soldiers and thanks to his action he allowed the men of his unit to liberate the village of Grandcamp while seizing German machine guns.
To commemorate this charge with bayonets and grenades, to remember his unlimited courage and his rapid and effective reading of the situation, the President of the United States of America, represented by the Congress, presented to the Technical Sergeant Frank Peregory’s highest US military honor, the famous Medal of Honor, posthumously. Frank Peregory was killed six days later during the defense of the town of Couvains on 14 June 1944. He was 29 years old.
Today, a small garden and a monument were erected in Grandcamp in memory of the young American soldier of the 29th Infantry Division, at the very site of one of the German machine guns in a Tobruk, which is still visible. The city has named this place: the Frank Peregory Garden.
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