1st Division - 16th Regiment - 3rd Battalion - L Company - Account
The company landed between 0650 and 0700. The order from left to right in the assault sections was fur, five, three, headquarters detachment, two and one.
The fourth section foundered due to heavy seas. The boat section sunk about two miles from shore. The men remained in the water from two to three hours. Four of them drowned, four others are still missing. The first section boat was hit by an artillery shell about two hundred yards out, but lost no men. This shell was probably a 47mm. However, as with a second battalion, the boats did not suffer any real losses while in motion, although under steady fire. The losses began when the ramps were lowered.
When L Company landed there were tanks in motion and other infantry on the beach well off to the right. The tanks were moving up and down the beach but they were not firing.
Headquarters and third section landed dry. The second landed in water up to their hips, and the first section landed in water neck deep. Fifth section landed in knee deep water.
In the first section two anti-tank artillery shells landed on the boat just as the men were debarking. One shell hit under the ramp and knocked off two men who fell into the water. Several others were wounded.
The third section had some near artillery misses. The same was true of the second section which had two shells to the right of their boat. Five men were wounded by this fire, two in the stomach, the others in the extremities. These men were all dragged to safety.
The second section had just landed when a shell hit the boat and exploded it. It seems to have been the experience of L Company that it was able to retrieve its wounded in time, as the men do not recall seeing any of them taken out by the tide. However, they did see Navy personnel lost in this manner.
There was no shingle where L Company landed, but only flat beach stretching out ahead of them to the foot of the cliff. The company landed so that its right flank was just at the right edge of the cliff.
The men advanced to the foot of the cliff immediately and without having to be urged. There was much machine gun fire from above and from both flanks. On the left flank there was a 47mm gun shooting down the beach.
It was only a matter of a few minutes – as long as it takes to walk three hundred yards – until the company had moved from the waters edge to the foot of the cliff. The first and more lightly loaded men ran. The weight carriers did it a walk.
Of the 31 in the first section, 18 arrived at the cliff and six of these were wounded. Second battalion got 25 to the cliff, five wounded. The third section got all of its 31 men to the cliff and only one man was wounded. This section had kept extremely well spread out and its movement regulated off the boat. This section had taken up an interval but the others had deployed on leaving. The fifth got twenty men to the cliff, about ten wounded en route. One man was killed at the foot of the cliff from mortar fire. Headquarters detachment lost five men before reaching the cliff. This included the company commander, Captain John R. Armellino, who was hit by mortar fire.
The aid men were treating right at the edge of the water. They worked back and forth from the water dragging those back to the cliff who could not move under their own power. First Army troops, both engineers and medics, went to the rescue of the wounded. Some were shot while so doing. The Germans fired at all that moved and made no exceptions of the aid man.
L Company was supposed to land with its right flank next to the left shoulder of F Company, but in fact it came in about five hundred yards to the left of its objective and at the point that I Company was supposed to land. It thus was displaced five hundred yards from its assigned missions. The first section under Lieutenant Kenneth E. Klenk struck out immediately to the right to feel out the strong point confronting the beach and between the two draws. However, upon finding that approach to this strong point exposed his men unduely, he moved his men back and straight up the hill toward the strongpoint between the beach and Cabourg. The ground of this incline was furrowed with numerous small circular ditches so that it was almost terrace like. The men were able to walk right up the draw without receiving any fire. In part this was due to the nature of the ground but also to the defenders being shelled by a destroyer. Two men were hit in the group. That left ten. In retracting its steps, however, the first section had closed in behind the second, third, and fifth sections which were already fighting their way up the slope with the second in the lead. The second section swung in toward the strong point and got behind it. The third and fifth moved oblique right and continued up the draw. By this time the naval fire was holding up the movement and preventing second and first sections from closing in on the strong point.
The sections attacking the strong point had come up the hill under bullet and riffle grenade fire. The men had moved along in squad column and were taking advantage of the shrubbery within the draw so that the enemy fire did them little hurt. They could see the Germans moving around in position on the stop of the hill and the BAR men not only in the sections closing on the strong point, but in the two sections which had gone on rightward, were spaying the ground steadily. The BAR fire was extremely and they saw some of the enemy fall.
At the same time, two medium tanks on the beach were putting 75mm fire on the enemy emplacements, this fire being directed by Lieutenant Jimmie W. Monteith of L Company.
The machine guns of L Company were set up on the ridge to the west of the strong point. They also supported the advance.
First section moved in to the outlying trenches of the strong point and began moping up with grenades and satchel charges. About four or five of the enemy were knocked out during the close fighting before the remainder surrendered. The Americans lost only one. He is supposed to have been killed by a mine. In the second section four men were wounded, but they treated on the ground and remained to fight. One other was hit in the stomach. The third section was still unhurt. The fifth section lost no men advancing up the hill.
At 0900 Lieutenant Cutler called to battalion and told them that the enemy had been subdued in the strong point. At 0930 battalion was again called and told that the company was on the initial high ground.
Almost immediately Sergeant Davis took a patrol of three men to cut the road to Le Grand Hameau. He then added one man to the patrol and moved up to the first building of Le Grand Hameau, looking for the flank of K Company. His mission also included reconnaissance of a route by which L Company could advance. But while he was talking with a French civilian, a German came toward the patrol. They shot him.
At the same time machine pistols started firing over on the left and the patrol fell back toward the company. The troops claim that the Germans were drunk. Sergeant Davis could hear them laughing and giving commands in English in the hedgerows.
L Company had already beaten off its first small counter attack. The Germans moved their automatic fire along the hedge rows from the direction of the beach. This attack was driven off by fire before many of the enemy were seen. But it seemed to be about a platoon omen. They moved from both the left and right rear. Monteith was killed during this attack. Half a dozen others were hit. By this time L Company had been joined by a heavy machine gun section from M Company and a section from K Company.
Another patrol from the fifth section was sent on a reconnaissance toward Cabourg on the right flank. It sent back word by one man that it had followed a defiladed position from which to observe the town. A fem minutes later, however, one of the men was wounded. While the two others were attending him, they captured by a German patrol. They spent the night in Cabourg and came out next night with 52 prisoners. The leading figure in this was Private First Class Lawrence Mielender.