01-06-2005, 06:32 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by KG2323:
i saw "cole's charge" in another post and i was wonderin what exactly happened.And Where?
Any links for this...thnx <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Check this out!
This the map where the charge took place.
02-20-2005, 08:13 AM
Just to get some perspective, when did this happen in relation to the 506th's attack on Carentan (yes, I am referring to Band of Brothers! sorry)
02-24-2005, 05:31 AM
Here is a after battle report:
The Causeway Attack
By evening of 8 June, the 101st Airborne Division had occupied a defensive arc on the southern flank of the VII Corps from Chef-du-Pont to the mouth of the Douve. The 502d Parachute Infantry, after accomplishing its missions in the Foucarville area, had taken positions on the right flank of the division, from Chef-du-Pont to the vicinity of Houesville. The 327th Glider Infantry, which had arrived by sea, relieved Colonel Johnson's and Captain Shettle's men in the vicinity of the lock and the le Port bridges. The 506th Parachute Infantry held the center, astride the Carentan highway, while the 501st Parachute Infantry was assembled near Vierville as division reserve.
The plan of the 101st Division provided for two crossings of the Douve. The left wing, starting at 0100 on 10 June, was to cross in the vicinity of Brevands; part of this force was to join V Corps near the Vire River bridge southwest of Isigny, while the main force was to drive southwest to seize Carentan. The right wing was to cross the causeway northwest of Carentan, bypass Carentan, and seize Hill 30, southwest of the city. Capture of Hill 30 would put the Americans astride the principal German escape route from Carentan, as movement to the south and east was hindered by the Vire-Taute Canal and extensive swampland. As the battle for Carentan developed, the left and right wings of the division were coordinated to form a ring about the town, and within this ring a pincers closed in on the town itself.
With St. Come-du-Mont clear, the division's right wing was ready to begin its attack across the causeway. There were indications that Carentan was not heavily defended. On 18 June Colonel Sink of the 506th Parachute Infantry had outposted the first two bridges across the causeway after the enemy's withdrawal from St. Come-du-Mont, and on the following day he made a reconnaissance to the outskirts of Carentan; in the vicinity of the fourth bridge he drew fire (Map No. 16). Airplane reconnaissance reported that Carentan had been evacuated and also that a big gap had been blown in the railway embankment, thus making the causeway the only practicable approach to Carentan. Straight and narrow, the causeway rises some six to nine feet above the marshes and spans the Douve and Madeleine Rivers and the two Douve canals. Any attack would thus be canalized and expose the infantry to fire from the front and both flanks. On either side the marshes extend out of rifle range. With the western bank of the causeway falling away sharply to the water's edge, only the more gradually sloping eastern bank offered an opportunity to dig in.
The attack was to be carried out by the 502d Parachute Infantry. The 3d Battalion (Colonel Cole) started out shortly after midnight, 9-10 June. But the inability of the
engineers, working under fire, to repair Bridge No. 2 caused the attack to be postponed. Shortly after midnight a patrol, led by Lt. Ralph B. Gehauf, set out to reconnoiter the road. The patrol crossed the canal at Bridge No. 2 in a boat and proceeded to Bridge No. 4. At this point the men were forced to edge single file through a narrow opening left by a heavy Belgian Gate which had been drawn almost completely across the bridge, and
which they could budge only about eighteen inches. When they had gone about fifty yards beyond the bridge a mortar shell dropped near them, flares went up, and then machine guns and more mortars fired on them. The fire came from the front and right front, the first indication that the Germans were in positions on the highway and on the higher ground directly south and west of the highway. At about 0530 the patrol withdrew.
The battalion was then told that the attack would be launched in the afternoon, with considerable artillery support, principally from the 65th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. self-propelled guns) and the 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75-mm. pack howitzers). Most of the artillery fire was laid on the suspected and known enemy positions southwest of Bridge No. 4. At noon the engineers had still not spanned the 12-foot gap at Bridge No. 2, but Colonel Cole and three other men improvised a footbridge with engineer planking, enabling the battalion to start crossing in single file in the middle of the afternoon. From Carentan an 88-mm. gun continued to interdict the causeway, but it did not stop the movement and caused no casualties. The men moved low or crawled along the embankment. At the end of three hours, when the point of the battalion had crossed three of the bridges and most of the men were beyond Bridge No. 2, the enemy opened fire from the hedgerows and a large farmhouse to the right front. The men in the point hit the ditches. As they attempted to move forward, an enemy machine gun behind a hedgerow only a hundred yards away searched the ditches, and, after three men were hit, the group withdrew.
The battalion, extended in a long thin column on the road and, unable to maneuver to either flank, was under enemy small-arms fire along its whole length. To advance, it had to send one man at a time to rush the Belgian Gate at Bride No. 4 and slip through the narrow opening under direct enemy fire. The whole precarious maneuver would have been impossible without artillery support, which worked over German positions from 1600 to 2330 and undoubtedly reduced the effectiveness of enemy fire. Part of Company G, which was leading the battalion, deployed to the left of Bridge No. 4, while the rest of the company tried to cross the bridge through the narrow opening. Six men edged through; the seventh was hit and the company stopped to build up a fire position. Three mortars were also brought up and they worried over the German-held ground.
Still the battalion could not advance. Company I, exposed on the right bank near Bridge No. 3 where men had no grass for concealment and could not dig in, was hard hit, first by enemy rifle fire and later (at 2330) by two planes that bombed and strafed its positions. The strafing in particular took a heavy toll and, when it was over, 21 men and 2 officers of the company's original 80 moved back behind Bridge No. 2. About midnight, during a lull in the firing Company H started moving men through the gate at Bridge No. 4.
At 0400 on 11 June, Regiment ordered the 3d Battalion to continue the attack, and in the darkness Company G and Headquarters Company followed Company H across Bridge No. 4. The battalion deployed along both sides of the highway. The center of the enemy's positions appeared to be a large farmhouse, flanked by hedgerows, on the higher ground which rises out of the marshes on the right-hand side of the road.
When the leading scouts on the right approached the farmhouse, they were fired on by rifles, machine guns, and mortars. In an attempt to neutralize the position, an artillery concentration was placed on the area but had no perceptible effect. Colonel Cole then ordered a bayonet charge on the farmhouse and called across the road to Maj. John P. Stopka, the battalion executive officer, to have the or-
der passed along. Artillery put down smoke in a wide arc around the objective. At 0615, as the artillery fire was lifted, Colonel Cole blew his whistle and led the charge. Of the 250 men who should have followed him only 20 got up to go; another 50 followed Major Stopka. In the confusion and excitement, with the men widely distributed and hugging the ground, the order had not been passed around. Some of the men never received it; others had only a vague idea by hearing a word or two. In addition, parts of Company G, in the meadow east of the road to Carentan, became involved with enemy troops, armed with machine pistols. The commanding officer of the company was hit by an artillery short during the action. Most of the men of Company G did not hear the whistle at all, but when they saw the attack they ran after the others, trying to catch up.
Despite the initial disorder, the men charged across a ditch into the fire-swept field east of the farmhouse. The men, closely bunched, followed Colonel Cole and Major Stopka, and Colonel Cole stopped several times to get them to fan out. Two men of Company H reached the farmhouse first and found it abandoned, but to the west on higher ground the enemy still occupied rifle pits and machine-gun emplacements along a hedgerow running at right angles to the road. Under the momentum of the charge the men also secured this objective and eliminated the Germans with grenades and bayonets. The enemy's main defense was thus broken, but he still held ground to the south from which he continued to fire on the American positions. Colonel Cole wished to take advantage of the enemy's disorganization and keep the attack moving, but the 3d Battalion was in no condition to push on. All of the men in the battalion managed to cross the causeway and assemble near the farmhouse, but units were badly mixed and had suffered heavy casualties. Word was therefore sent to the rear to ask the 1st Battalion, 502d Parachute Infantry, to come up and pass through the 3d and continue the attack south to the high ground at la Billonerie (Hill 30).
The 1st Battalion (Colonel Cassidy) was north of Bridge No. 4 when it received Colonel Cole's message. It crossed the bridge under heavy fire and deployed across the fields toward the house. Instead of relieving the 3d Battalion, however, it reinforced it to help secure the ground gained. The 1st Battalion had been hard hit, especially by mortar fire, and was as disorganized as the 3d. Colonel Cole commanded the positions on the right from his command post in the farmhouse and Colonel Cassidy stayed on the left; there was little consultation or communication between them.
On the right flank the defensive position was improved when a group of men, after routing a few remaining Germans from the ridge, pursued them down the side road which ran between the farmhouse and the ridge. These men set up a machine gun at the crossroads and, together with others who joined them later, engaged the Germans who had returned to take up positions in the houses south of the crossroads. For the rest of the day they remained there, virtually isolated, some 150 yards out ahead of the other American positions. Another small group set up two machine guns in the corner formed by two hedgerows behind the farmhouse; these guns could fire into the hedgerows to the east, into the orchard, and down the road to the crossroads.
The defense, however, was not coordinated, and in the farmhouse Colonel Cole remained apprehensive. He did not know the situation on his flanks, his communications were out, and he thought that the supporting artillery was not effective. With their backs against the river, the troops had no rear area and hence no local reserve. The artillery observers could not see where their shells were landing because of the hedgerows and had to adjust fire, in the manner of jungle warfare, by sound. Very few of the men saw the enemy,
who moved low behind the hedgerows; they judged his closeness by the sound of his fire.
In the middle of the morning enemy artillery and mortar fire increased in intensity, and the Germans began a counterattack. One of the strongest thrusts came through the orchard and threatened to rout the Americans south and east of the farmhouse. But machine guns south of the house broke up the attack and the position was restored. It held throughout the morning.
Shortly before noon an unexplained lull occurred in the fighting. The 502d Parachute Infantry took advantage of this to re-form its left flank positions. Company C moved forward from Bridge No. 4 to a cabbage patch
between the second and third hedgerows where they could fire down along the forward hedgerow as well as along the highway. Company A took positions just behind Company C and extended its line across the road.
At noon Regiment notified the battalions that the enemy had requested a truce and ordered cease firing. It was a garbled message. The fact was that General McAuliffe, who was directing the operation for the 101st, was requesting this truce of the enemy. McAuliffe wanted time to clear the lines of his own casualties. Maj. Douglas T. Davidson, regimental surgeon, escorted by two Germans, went through the enemy lines to ask the military commander of Carentan for a breathing space to evacuate the wounded. When Major Davidson returned to Bridge No. 4, having been denied an interview with the German commander, the enemy opened fire- with rifles, machine guns, mortars, and artillery-in the most intense concentration of the day. Colonel Cole called Regiment and asked permission to return fire. He was ordered to wait, for Major Davidson had not yet returned to the regimental command post with definite word of the end of the truce. But the men in the line made their own decision and opened fire with all they had. They were convinced, not only by having observed the movements of the enemy during the truce, but also by the effectiveness of his renewed fire, that he had used the interlude to strengthen his small-arms positions and to prepare an artillery attack.
The renewed German attack strained the American positions almost to the breaking point. The group at the crossroads on the right flank had not received the cease fire order and had continued to fire on the Germans whom they had observed moving about to their left. When the truce ended and the enemy struck at the crossroads, some of the groups were forced to give ground. One of the machine guns behind the farmhouse, by interdicting the crossroads, helped the others to hold. The positions on the left, in the cabbage patch and along the hedgerows, managed to hold throughout the afternoon against repeated German attempts to come down the ditches beside the highway and along the hedgerows. At times they came so near that the men could hear the Germans working their bolts. The enemy gave the two battalions no respite and no opportunity to reorganize or evacuate the wounded. His artillery was weak, but his mortars never stopped firing.
Colonel Cole, looking out from a second-story window in the farmhouse, expected his line to crack. At 1830 he informed Regiment that he planned to withdraw and asked to have covering fire and smoke ready when the time came. He believed that only closer and heavier artillery support would enable him to hold out. But the radio of his artillery liaison officer, Capt. Julian Rosemond, had been jammed. When Captain Rosemond finally managed to get through to the artillery command post, the situation improved rapidly. During most of the day only two battalions had been firing in direct support. Now every gun in the command was brought to bear. To be effective it was necessary to adjust the fires very closely, with the result that two Americans were killed. The shells arched high over the American positions and fell in the field directly beyond the farmhouse. It lasted only five minutes, but when the fire lifted the sound of German firing was receding southward. Patrols sent out ascertained that the enemy had fled. At about 2000 the 2d Battalion came up to take over the now improved positions, and the 1st and 3d Battalions withdrew. The enemy defense barring the way to Carentan from the north was broken, but the 502d Parachute Infantry was too exhausted to continue the attack. It requested relief, and the 506th Parachute Infantry was sent in to finish the job.(1)
(1) Colonel Cole was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his part in the Carentan attack. Before he could receive the medal he was killed in action in Holland, 19 September 1944.
it is worth reading