Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944

Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944

Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944

Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944

Synopsis

August 1944 saw the culmination of the German response to the Allied landings in Normandy, with a massive German counter-attack. A handful of American troops from the 30th Infantry Division blunted their attack. This is their story.

Excerpt

The 120th Infantry Regiment was my home. I joined it as a seventeen‐ year-old high school trombone player and served in it for eleven years. I was an enlisted man for five and a half years before I was commissioned. In the next five and a half years, I commanded platoons, commanded two different rifle companies, was the S-3 (operations officer) of the 3d and the 1st Battalions and then of the regiment, commanded the 1st Battalion, and was the last commander of the 120th Regiment before it returned to North Carolina state control in 1946.

I was serving as S-3 of the 1st Battalion when the 30th Division landed in France and we began to battle our way through the hedgerows. It seemed like the grind would never end. Each few yards were fraught with wounds and death and tears.

The 1st Battalion was commanded at that time by Lt. Col. Hugh I. Mainord, one of the finest soldiers that anyone will ever know. He was a fine gentleman, a National Guard veteran of World War I, and he was old enough to be my father. He told me that he knew he was too old to last long commanding a frontline infantry battalion. He was praying to God that he would be able to keep up his physical strength long enough to hold the unit together through its first really tough fight. He did better than that. He carried us until we all were convinced that we could stand up under anything that was thrown at us.

One morning, after about four weeks in the hedgerows, he and I were walking along a small trail toward one of the frontline rifle companies. He looked at me with glazed eyes and said, "Butch, I've . . .

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