Navigation bar
  Home View PDF document Start Previous page
 8 of 16 
Next page End 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13  

On the morning of 10 July 1944, the 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry, was occupying a defensive
position on the northwestern slope of Hill 122. The Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bealke,
received an order from the Regimental Commander directing that his battalion attack to the southeast
from its position at 1400 and capture the village of Lastelle. (See Map C)
The Battalion Commander decided to attack with two companies abreast, Company I on the left
and Company L on the right. Company K, in reserve, was to follow Company L by approximately 300
yards. Company M was to support the attack from positions on the northwest slope of Hill 122. The
command group, consisting of the Battalion CO, the Heavy Weapons Company Commander and seven
men, including messenger and communication personnel, were to follow 100 to 200 yards to the rear of
the left platoon of Company L. Company I, on the left, was to guide initially on the firebreak that ran
generally north and south within its zone, and thence on a trail leading to the southeast. Company L was
to maintain its direction of attack by retaining contact with Company I. (See Map C) Supporting fires of
Company M were to be available on call. There was to be no artillery preparation. (27)
Prior to the attack the Company Commanders’ reconnaissance consisted of studying the open
terrain on the north edge of the forest. Information pertinent to the interior of the woods could be
gleaned only from a map study.
At 1400, the leading elements of the battalion crossed the line of departure in the prescribed
formation. The assault advanced 600 yards prior to meeting enemy resistance. Companies I and L
advanced abreast in formation of two platoons on line as skirmishers, with the weapons and third
platoons in tactical column formation to the center rear of their respective companies. Only by
advancing slowly in this manner were the forward elements of the battalion able to search their zone,
locate and close with the Germans. Visibility was limited to 5 to 25 yards. Contact between platoons and
companies was extremely difficult to maintain due to the dense undergrowth. (28)
At approximately 1500 the Battalion Commander ordered all units to halt in order that contact
could be regained and to determine the exact location of the battalion in the woods. The platoons of
Company I had been able to maintain contact with each other. Also, the left platoon of Company L was
in contact with the right platoon of Company I. However, the two remaining rifle platoons and the
weapons platoon of Company L were in unknown locations in the dense thicket to the right rear.
Company K, to the rear of Company L, had also lost contact with the remainder of the battalion except
by radio, SCR 300. The exact location of the battalion in the woods could not be determined
Lieutenant Colonel Bealke, having ordered all units to regain contact, called the direct support
artillery battalion via his wire line and requested that a purple smoke shell be fired on a concentration
number he believed to be in the general vicinity. He then adjusted the fire until it was immediately to his
front and requested the fire direction center to inform him of the coordinates of the last round fired. Due
to the extremely limited visibility during the battalion’s advance, it was only by this method that the
Battalion Commander was able to determine his exact location to be at Point A. (See Map C)
Contact within the battalion having been regained, the advance was resumed. After a short
movement forward, Company I was suddenly stopped by fire from positions located behind a large pile
of rocks approximately 25 feet high located to its immediate front. (See Point B, Map C) The unit had
been proceeding slowly through the brush when about 10 hand grenades were hurled over the thicket
Previous page Top Next page