1st Infantry Division
For the attention of:
Major General L. T. Gerow
An account of a fighting force consisting of 16th Regiment 1st Infantry Division supported by elements of the 741st Tank Battalion and the 705th Tank Battalion.
Having received orders to press the advance against retreating German forces who had dug in around a local French village near an important cross road. Entering the southern outskirts of the village had been met with little resistance.
At around 8 am on the 12th March, while 2 company took position in the woods, 1company observed the enemy forces preparing dug in positions around the clock tower of the village. The enemy force at the time was reported as consisting of two units of Panzer Grenadiers, two pumas and two units of Stummels. The order was then given to the unit of 76mm Sherman from the 741st to take this opportunity to dash along the road through the village to the furthest of the mission’s objectives, attempting to cut of the route of retreat.
On the intel from 1 company, the Sherman 105mm gun team was able to get effective fire one the position of an enemy Panzer Grenadiers trying to take shelter in a wood behind the village, total number of casualties at the time was unknown, but the fire made sure they kept their heads down.
Soon after this order was given a unit of Pak 40s who were laying in ambush around a deserted farmstead, engaged the 4 M10s of the 705th. Thankfully this surprise flanking move was not as costly as feared, with their shots disabling only one M10 with the majority of the crew being able to evacuate the wreck and retire to the rear.
1 Company was ordered to move the around the south side of the village to support the unit of 76mm, as they risked the chance of being cut off by the enemy Pumas and Stummels. As they made their way through the churchyard three enemy Tigers were observed entering the south east side of the village heading directly in the direction of the 76mm Sherman’s. Thanks to quick thinking from 1 company commanding officers this advance was quickly checked by calling in an effective smoke bombardment from the 105mm Sherman’s.
During this time a unit of Panzer Grenadiers advanced towards the churchyard to lay less than effective fire on to 1 company. While 1 company and the 76mm Sherman unit was busy on the east side of the village, 2 company has been ordered to engaged and check the fire of the Pak 40s while the remaining 3 M10s moved into protective cover.
Orders were given to the unit of Sherman 105s to try to push the enemy from the centre of the village thus allowing re-enforcements a through route to support the 76mm Sherman’s who had been coming under effective fire from both the enemy Stummels, Tigers and single Puma. It is at this time information was relayed back to force command of the loss of two 76mm tanks.
The 105mm unit made short work of securing a foot hold in the village centre, 1 and 2 company was given the order to support and build on this footing by disengaging with the enemy and making their way back round the church to remove the Panzer Grenadiers who had taken up fire positions within the village buildings. Soon after 2 company had disengaged the suppression of the enemy Pak 40s the remaining M10s were disabled while attempting to flank the gun position with the loss of all crew.
1 and 2 company made quick work of most of the buildings during intense house to house fighting through the village. This was checked by a large town house in which the enemy had been able to build formidable defences. During the final assault of this building having seen that their men were exhausted it was decided to allow them men to take shelter and cover the building with suppressive fire. During this period of time, the enemy was able to reinforce this dug in position.
Word was then passed through to command that the 76mm unit had been completely destroyed, thankfully the surviving crew were able to make it back to friendly lines. This allowed the enemy Tigers to move in behind 1 and 2 company, when 1 and 2 company suffered severe casualties while under incoming fire from both the German defenders and the Tigers, the remaining infantry and 105mm Sherman’s retired to the south of the village to await division reinforcements.
I wish to draw the attention of the Generals to the actions of the 76mm commander who during the final actions of his units engagement with the enemy Tigers was able to single handily outflank one of the Tigers and lay fire down to the rear of the tank which forced the Tiger crew to evacuate the vehicle.