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


    On the morning of July 3rd, the 82nd Airborne Division and other divisions were unleashed on a drive to the southwest. Our 82nd objective was La Haye du Puits. General Collins had finally taken the port of Cherbourg, which was badly needed to bring in supplies for our forces. Eisenhower could now direct his armies to drive east into France. But first there was a main effort to cut off the German forces located between American forces and the British and Canadian forces to the north. We were in a defensive position to the northeast of La Daudaie. Our first day's objective on July 3rd was to drive southwest about 6,000 yards, just short of Blanchelande and clear the left slope of Hill 131 with the 505th to take the hill. The following day, July 4th, we were to take Hill 95, about 4,000 yards to our southwest. On the morning of July 3rd, Colonel Lindquist had me give the attack order. The 505th would be on our right and the 325th would be on our left. Our Regimental attack was 2nd and 3rd Battalions abreast with the 1st Battalion following in close reserve. The attack went well until I think I heard over my radio that LTC Shanley, leading the 2nd Battalion, had tripped the wire to a bouncing betty and caught a ball in the back of his neck. The loss of Colonel Shanley was critical leaving only an inexperienced officer to lead the Battalion. I requested and received permission from Colonel Lindquist to go forward and lead the Battalion. I immediately went forward to the 2nd Battalion, which was involved in cleaning up a German defensive position. The Battalion was unorganized and some men were looting the captured Germans.

    I sent Colonel Shanley back to the medics and proceeded to get the Battalion organized and moving toward our objective for the day. We closed on it about an hour before dark. After my 2nd Battalion had proceeded to about 1,000 yards short of our objective I heard firing to our rear. I took one man with me to backtrack and see what was holding up the 1st Battalion. As we took a bend in the dirt road and looked down the hill, we could see Germans in a deep drainage ditch firing at our oncoming 1st Battalion, the Regimental reserve. My runner and I knocked off a couple of them from our hillside position and they started crawling off in the ditch of the oncoming 1st Battalion. I grabbed the point rifle squad and directed them in cutting off the escaping Germans. We captured 25 or 26 Germans led by an SS lieutenant. I still have his P38 pistol. Major Warren came up, saw the last of the action, and remarked that I would make a good platoon leader. These Germans had moved laterally to get out from in front of the 505th Regiment on our right. If Major Warren, the 1st Battalion Commander, had maintained contact with the leading 2nd Battalion, as he should have, there would have been no room for the Germans to move laterally from in front of the 505th, and I explained this to him.

    After seeing to it that the 2nd Battalion was in a good defensive position for the night, there was still a half hour of daylight remaining, so I set out to make a reconnaissance for the following morning, July 4th, at dawn. I found that there was an open valley about one quarter mile across between us and the Germans. I moved to the left forward edge of a wooded area, crawled behind a stone wall, pulled a rock out of the wall, and with my field glasses, had spotted two German gun positions on Hill 95. About that time one of the men came walking up to my position and I called to him to get down as the Germans could see him. He kept coming and then ran like hell when the Germans put an 88 round into the wall just ahead of him. I never learned who the soldier was. I don't think he wanted me to know. As soon as darkness closed in, I left my observation post and returned to the Battalion, which was located on the back slope of a small rise. I talked on a field telephone with Colonel Lindquist and told him that for the attack next morning I was going to move the Battalion to the left into a tree-covered ridge leading to Hill 95 and not have to cross the open valley and be subject to direct fire from the German guns on Hill 95.

    I had no sooner hung the phone back on a tree when the Germans lucked out. They put a mortar round into the top of the tree. I think I heard it coming but took a dive too late. I was hit in the back by two shell fragments. It felt like someone had stuck a fence post in my back and all I could do was lay there and cuss and think of all the times they were shooting at me and missed. They finally lobbed one over the hill and got me. Doctor Montgomery and the medics got to me right away, taped my chest tight closing the wound so that I would not have a blowhole and collapsed lung. They called Regiment for a jeep and put me in the front seat with the driver. On the way to the hospital we stopped briefly at the Regimental CP and I had a few words with Colonel Lindquist but I could not talk very well. When we arrived at the field hospital, there was a ground fog. I put my foot down to dismount from the jeep, saw two orderlies coming with a stretcher, and I can only remember falling to the ground. The next thing I remember two doctors were trying to take an x-ray of my chest. I was bare from my waist up but still wearing my pants. I had the shakes and could not hold still for the x-ray. When I came to after surgery. Major General Ridgeway was sitting on a stool by my cot holding my hand. He was talking to me but I do not remember what he said as I was only semiconscious.


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