THEIR NORMANDY CAMPAIN
22 JULY The 28th DIV made up of the 109th 110th and the 112th regiments landed on Omahah beach and moved directly to the west of St Lo. Which had been liberated on the 18th
25th July : Operation cobra started. The breakout was preceded by bombing from the airforce. The Panzer Lehr was practically wiped out by this bombing. Their commanding officer, Bayerlein, had pulled back his HQ from Quibou to Dangy was obliged to retreat to Percy where they tried to resist. Bayerlein escaped on foot from Percy.
30th July: The 29th are sent to attack Percy but are pushed back. The 28th come to relieve them. Patrols were sent into Percy but couldn’t hold there. 2nd AUGUST: PERCY is finally liberated but it is a pile of rubble.
4 AUGUST 4th div Inf under Gl BARTON pushes towards the heights around PERRIERS en BEAUFICEL The 28th take St Sever en Calvados
5 AUGUST In the evening the 39th RI of 9th Div Inf under Gl EDDY get to the south western edge of Perriers and hold it firmly.
The 28th were at St SEVER EN CALVADOS. Resting in the forest near the Mill. Two members of the resistance came to met them. A teacher from Sourdeval Andre Debon and Michel Tauzin. They were taken to see Lieutenant Richard Leach (He came back for the 50th anniv) Andre DEBON later led Irvine Ruckens and the 109th towards GATHEMO and TAUZIN led the 110th towards BOIS DE LA HAYE.
6th AUGUST The germans are planning the counter attack operation Lütwitz (Cork) They bring in the 116th PZ around Perriers and the 84th DI to back up the 2nd PZ.
Night of the 6th - 7th : The germans launch the counter attack from the heights between Sourdeval and Mortain towards Avranches breaking through the Americans lines to a depth of 7 mles 7th August Coming from St Sever the 109th reg of the 28th DI attack Gathemo but held of by fierce resistance in the town. At Perriers en Beauficel the 9th DI are fighting hard only to advance a few hundred yards. The Germans have sent the 116th PZ to attack towards Brecey. They are stopped in their tracks by the combined effect of the artillery and airborne attack from a squadron of TYPHOONS of the RAF.
8 August Sourdeval and the surrounding country comes under a hail of artillery fire. The american artillery wants to stop the germans reinforcing their troops on the heights around Perrier and Gathemo. The whole town is burning. The germans have cut off the water supply and anyway there’s nobody there to fight the fire.
9th August vigourous resistance by the Germans allows them to still hold the heights between Gathemo and Perrier. SOURDEVAL is still under a rain of shells. The asylum St Joseph is used as a hospital with no water or medical supplies available. The people convince the Germans to take 40 wounded to Flers.
10 th August GATHEMO is a pile of rubble. And is liberated after a fierce battle by the 109th . The 109th continue towards PERRIER EN BEAUFICEL. Throughout the day German troops have driven through SOURDEVAL in lorries in the direction of BROUAIN near PERRIER. They were singing. But in the evening they go back in the other direction most of them on foot, many wounded. Nobody was singing
11th August PERRIERS EN BEAUFICEL and BEAUFICEL are liberated. The germans defended each hedgerow. The 109th go southwards to go round SOURDEVAL.
12th August The 28th DIV was increasing the pressure on SOURDEVAL.from the North and West. The village of VENGEONS is reached by the 110th towards midday It was here that Gl James Wharton was kiled by a sniper. He had taken up his command the day before. He was replaced by Gl COTA.
The 109th get to BROUAINS and progress westwards to the other side of the River SEE. 13th August During the night, no vehicle has crossed SOURDEVAL.At 4am the american artillery fire for 2 hours. At 9am the first troops of the 110th arrive. The 109 th arrive from BROUAINS.
14th August The Germans abandon Chaulieu and Frense Poret, liberated by the 29th coming from Vire. In the triangle between Vire, St Pois and Mortain. There were 60000 victims,counting both sides.
From Sourdeval the 28th DIV went through GER then on to Verneuill on the way to Paris. Then turning north to Neubourg near the river Seine where they met resistance again.
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29th August The 28th paraded in the CHAMPS ELYSES in front of Gn BRADLEY, De GAULLLE, KOENIG and LECLERC.
In the autumn the 28th were attacking the Seigfreid line.
During the winter the 28th came up against stiff oposition in the Ardennes.
February 45 they were squeezing the Colmar pocket in Alsace. Then went into reserve in the Palatinat region till the end of the war.
THE DETAILS OF ST SEVER TO SOURDEVAL
ST SEVER EN CALVADOS
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Liberated on the 5th August The men rested at the Mill in the forest They were joined by two resistance agents. A teacher André DEBON and another man Michel TAUZIN. André DEBON was attached to the 109th in liaison with Irving Ruckens and TAUZIN to the 110th They were given a rifle each and shown how to use it. From the 7th to the 10th the 3 battalions of the 109th fought their way towards Gathemo through Champ de Boult.
CHAMP DE BOULT
Between Champ du Boult and Gathemo the ground was littered with victims from both sides and burnt out tanks and lorries, as well as farm animals.
BOIS DE LA HAYE
Michel Tauzin was acting as guide for the 110th. They spent the night in fox holes in the wood. A german soldier tried to get through their lines by pretending to be French. Tauzin unmasked him. The next day they moved south through the broken branches of the wood. They could hear artillery fire on the heights around Gathemo to their right. At each turn in a hedge they came under fire friom the germans laid up in the hedges.
Pounded by artillery. When it was taken on the 10th by the three battalions of the 109th after three days of repeated attacks there were only three houses standing. The 109th continue towards PERRIER EN BEAUFICEL.
Throughout the day German troops have driven through SOURDEVAL in lorries in the direction of BROUAIN near PERRIER. They were singing. But in the evening they go back in the other direction most of them on foot, many wounded. Nobody was singing
Between Gathemo and Cherencé the fighting was fierce with advances and retreats. From the 6th to the 11th
PERRIER EN BEAUFICEL
The hilly terrain and the hedgerows were slowing down the advance here. The ridge from Gathemo to Perrier was fiercely defended. In the lingard wood that lies to the west of Perrier the advance was at a snails pace. On the 6th of august the 4th Dibv Inf unleashed a barrage of 9000 rounds into the lingeard wood. The germans tried to escape to the south on the 7th. This was the day that the germans launched operation Lutwich towards Avranche.
PERRIERS EN BEAUFICEL and BEAUFICEL are liberated.on the 11th The germans defended each hedgerow. The 109th go southwards to go round SOURDEVAL.
CHERENCE LE ROUSSEL
Counter attack Night of the 6th - 7th : The germans launch the counter attack from the heights between Sourdeval and Mortain towards Avranches through Cherencé breaking through the Americans lines to a depth of 7 mles. The 28th were at St Sever advancing on Champ du Boult. At Perriers en Beauficel the 9th DI are fighting hard only to advance a few hundred yards. The Germans tanks trying to break through to Avranches are stopped in their tracks by the combined effect of the artillery and airborne attack from a squadron of TYPHOONS of the RAF. A member of the resistance went up in a plane to point out the german gun batteries
André Debon led Irving Ruckens on reconnaissance to Brouains. Irving Ruckens was the first american to enter Brouains. The square in front of the town hall has been named after him.
Sourdeval paid dearly for the spirit of independence that still lived in many people. The 20 councillors out of 30 supported Petain. In 1941 there were several arrests after a wreath was laid on the war memorial. Four men were deported, only one returned after the war.
In July 1944 the germans were getting nervous. On the 9th Georges Dealuney the baker went to his shop early to make some extra bread for the children in the childrens home. A soldier of the gestapo asked him what he was doing. He told him and went to put the key in the door. The gestapo shot him. He was burried a few days later with 3000 people in attendance. On The 11 july the station was bombed. In the beginning of august the town started to empty. The people went into the country or sheltered under railway bridges or even drains under the railway. On the 8th a hail of shells fell on Sourdeval. The americans were trying to stop the germans from supplying their troops on the heights of Gathemo. 11th August: The 28th DIV was increasing the pressure on SOURDEVAL.from the North and West. A column of lorries carrying german troops, singing, on their way towards gathemo. In the evening they come back the other way on foot many wounded.
13th August During the night, no vehicle has crossed SOURDEVAL.At 4am the american artillery fire for 2 hours. At 9am the first troops of the 110th arrive. The 109 th arrive from BROUAINS.
For the 50th anniversary a stele was erected at Sourdeval. Many veterans came back for the ceremony. There was Captain Dick Leach, Captain John Ritter, Irving Ruckens, Marvin Krusse, John McCabe and Michael Hushla.
Marvin Krusse brought an american flag that had flown in Washington DC.
In September 2002 four veterans came to visit with family and more recent members of the 28th. I was honoured to be their guide.
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- The group at Sourdeval