29th Division - 116th Regiment - 3rd Battalion - K Company- Group Critique Notes
The company was to come in as part of the reserve battalion. The boat loading therefore was different than the assault waves. Two boats were loaded in an assault manner in order that any emergency could be handle. The other four were loaded for troop transport. All boats were so crowded that the men could not sit down.
Five hundred yards from shore the boats received some artillery fire, and about a hundred yards out small arms fire struck the boat. There were, however, no casualties at sea except Lieutenant Ray G. Hellikson was accidentally wounded by a bayonet in the crowded boat. Despite this he continued with his unit.
The company was scheduled to land at H+50 and was ten minutes early. The naval personnel seemed very experienced and quite determined to land their men as dry as possible. Only the third section was wet as it hit a sand bar some little distance from the shore in over head water. The first man to leave the ramp disappeared from sight but soon managed to rid himself of his equipment and rise to the surface. The other men in the boat then abandoned their equipment in the boat and jumped into the water from the ramp or from the side of the boat and started swimming toward shore. Small arms fire played on the beach but no one is known to have been wounded while crossing to the sea wall in any of the sections.
The sections were landed very near together on a piece of beach which had no other personnel on it at that time. The sea wall was very low and with small arms fire continually firing above it, there was no desire on the part of the men to move to either flank to contact other boat sections. Beside, the sections had been instructed that they were to move to the battalion assembly area as boat sections rather than organize as a company. Such an organization might have been completed at this time, but as the men remained at the sea wall other troops landed and congested the area. Before the units moved off of the beach, it would have been difficult, if not impossible to organize. At least two men were killed and two wounded behind the sea wall.
An hour to an hour and a half after the troops reached the wall, the sections began to move out (0900). Each section made their own breach in the wire at the top of the wall and moved on its own initiative. The wire and intermingled mines made an obstacle about ten feet thick. Beyond this area were sand dunes which made for concealment as the men advanced. The sections kept no sectional contact on this march. Some hundred yards short of the hill a swamp was encountered. A few men were wounded in this swamp by machine gun fire.
The hill was fairly steep at this point and had many antipersonnel mines on it. By this time the boat sections were more or less together again in a single file formation. During the climb they mingled as the mine were so close that guides had to be left at various points to show the advancing troops exactly where they could step. The rocket ships had had helped much on this particular section of the hill as they had blown many of the mines and wires, and also had blown the grass so that other mines could be seen. Advancing up this hill about fifteen men were killed and wounded by machine gun fire and mine explosions.
The other sections of the company later advanced (still as boat sections) to the Vierville road. Here a large portion of the Third Battalion was stationed. Advance was blocked by fire so all groups remained on a depressed section of the road for the night.
Copyright 2000 - | Laurent LEFEBVRE - D-Day Historian