A Stodghill Says So blog:
Hours before first light on July Fourth it began, a massive artillery barrage that lit up the sky with brilliant flashes of gold and silver. Ships in the nearby English Channel joined in. Their shells passed overhead with a rustling sound like snakes slithering through dry leaves. The sound of death about to strike.
We watched from our staging area not far off, unable to sleep with the crash of exploding shells shaking the ground and the sky close by such a brilliant hue.
Last night we watched a fireworks display from our sixth floor balcony. It was excellent, noisy and colorful, yet puny by comparison with that earlier display. That one had been the beginning of a major offensive that failed to get off the starting line. In afternoon we were placed on alert, ready to move forward if the American front line collapsed.
It was morning before our hike began under threatening gray clouds. It was a circuitous march because flooded ground and a large morass separated us from the battle. We crossed a bridge where Eisenhower and Bradley were reported. We didn't see them. In late afternoon we stopped for a few minutes. Just in front of me was a milepost pointing the way to the town of Meautis. A short time later we halted and were told to dig in for the night.
The next morning was bright, the sky clear. A few minutes march brought us to the highway running south from Carentan. Our objective was the crossroads settlement of le Verimesmil. We entered a field to the right of the highway and I counted nineteen men from another division lying in their slit trenches, stabbed to death with their own bayonets. What had happened here? There was no way of knowing.
After hiking south a hundred yards or so the ripping sound of fast-firing German machine guns and the distinctive crack of rifle fire broke out. The men ahead had made contact, the fighting had begun. We ran forward to the sound of the guns.
By noon our company commander was dead. By evening we had lost four of our six officers and a hundred men, more than half of those in the company. For the first time we had made the acquaintance of a German SS division.
It had been one helluva Fourth of July fireworks display. The next ten days proved to be one helluva battle. Replacement poured in and died before they knew where they were, or why. Historians write about it but they don't know what it was like. It's listed as the Battle of Sainteny, the Battle of Sainteny Hill, the Battle of the Isthmus, the Battle of the Hedgerows. Take your pick, it doesn't matter.