What's New
Search Engine
Photo Gallery
Unit History
Unit Honors
Voices Of Past
F&F Association
How To Submit

Up Alexander (2) Alexander (3) Alexander (4) Alexander (5) Alexander (6) Alexander (7) POWs In Holzheim Darrell Apple R.E. Archambault David Axelrod


In a reconnaissance with my artillery observer, I had spotted a German multiple-firing railroad gun; I think a 40mm Pom-Pom north of the village. We brought in artillery fire on the gun and silenced it. The 1st Battalion was receiving a great deal of fire, including a lot of screaming mimis from the north on our right flank.

    While we were still clearing the village, Lieutenant Colonel Ekman, the 505th Commanding Officer, came up and wanted to know what I was doing waiting on the east side of the bridge. I told him I was waiting until the Battalion had cleared the village. We were standing at the northeast corner of the arching bridge over the railroad. In spite of my telling him that a German machine gun located on the road to La Ham was firing on the bridge, he started to cross it. The Germans opened fire on him and he had to make a running jump off the rear end of the bridge. Colonel Ekman left to check on the 2nd Battalion. I was concerned about having Germans on our left and right flanks. The 2nd Battalion had moved into position between the 1st Battalion and La Ham but were making no progress. Lieutenant Cooperider and I went down to the railroad track about 200 yards to the southeast when we saw three Germans crossing the railroad track to get in behind us. Cooperider said, "Let's get the hell out of here," and we returned to the village. After we cleared the village and the 2nd Battalion had passed through, I set up a CP about 75 yards east of the railroad overpass.

    Shortly thereafter I had been on the third floor of a small factory with William Hall, my runner/bodyguard, trying to locate with my field glasses the German gun location to the north. I was walking back toward the railroad overpass when I spotted one of the 2nd Battalion Company Commanders walking back to the east away from the 2nd Battalion front. I asked him what he was doing there in the 1st Battalion area. He said he was not going to stay up there on the northwest edge of the village where all the screaming mimis were falling. I told him they were falling all over the area, talked to him for about ten minutes telling him that he was responsible for the welfare of his men. I gave him a break and sent him back to his company. I never told anyone of this incident until years later when my wife and I were visiting the Vandervoorts at their home in South Carolina. After hearing of the incident, Vandervoort told me that he believed that was why he was held up in his Battalion's attack toward La Ham. Later, Vandervoort said, this captain became a fair company commander.

    About 2100 hours the night of the 10th, I had been patrolling our position and was returning to our CP when the Supply Officer of the 2nd Battalion and his driver came down the road with a jeep load of ammunition. The jeep hit a mine in the road and I saw them blown up in the air about fifteen feet. I ran over to them. The driver had been killed and Lieutenant Donnelly was in bad shape and could not see. One of the lieutenants and I carried him into the CP, gave him a shot of morphine and tried to comfort him. Although he could not see he asked me, "Is that you, Colonel Alexander?" I assured him it was and that we would soon have him back with the medics, and I thought he would be OK. I did not learn that he lived until, not long ago, I talked with his wife in Pennsylvania. She said he had always suffered from disabilities but had led a rather normal life and raised a family. He died in 1991.

    The 325th came up on our left flank on the 10th of June, with the 8th Regiment on our right. Late on the 10th our 1st and 2nd Battalions were relieved and moved to reserve in an area near Piceauville. I was still in command of the 1st Battalion on the 15th of June. Lieutenant Colonel Walter Winton had taken my place as Executive Officer of the 505th. On June 15th the 1st and 2nd Battalions launched an attack to the west--objective: St. Sauveur le Vicomte-- to speed up cutting off the peninsula and isolating Cherbourg with the 1st Battalion on the right and the 2nd Battalion on the left. To our left was the 508th and on our right the 9th Infantry Division. In leading off, the 1st Battalion had to pass through elements of the 9th Division on our right. It was a green Regiment that was bogged down in a hedgerow and was getting shot to pieces by German mortar fire. Our experienced Battalion drove the Germans back, and as I once said, we passed through the 9th like a dose of salts, and at the end of the day we had progressed about halfway to the Douve River north of Crosville, where we sat down for the night.

    We had experienced only sporadic resistance mainly from a stonewalled farmhouse and buildings. We had a few casualties including Lieutenant Gerard Johnson who had suffered a round through his shoulder and a new First Lieutenant replacement shot through the knee. We were again ahead of the 2nd Battalion even though I had given LTC Vandervoort my two tanks when he was held up by a rock-walled farmhouse complex. We were again open on our right flank. On the 16th of June we launched our attack at dawn and had stiff resistance from an 88mm gun position but by 1400 hours, we had reached the road paralleling the Douve River and were again ahead of the 2nd Battalion on our left. I could hear them fighting on the main road to the southeast. The 9th, on our right, was far behind. I sat up in a defensive position on the river road defending from the northeast and the southwest. We had no more than taken up our defense when a German command car with four occupants drove right into us from the north along the
river road.


Top of Page

Copyright and all other rights reserved by the Family and Friends of The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment Association or by those who are otherwise cited,
For problems or questions regarding this web site, please contact