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 Fourth of July Fireworks

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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

Number of posts : 3795
Registration date : 2008-05-04
Age : 94
Location : Akron, Ohio

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PostSubject: Fourth of July Fireworks   Fourth of July Fireworks EmptySat Jul 04, 2009 9:55 am

A Stodghill Says So blog:Fourth of July Fireworks MapJuly6-1
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.
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Carol Troestler
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Carol Troestler

Number of posts : 3827
Registration date : 2008-06-07
Age : 81
Location : Wisconsin

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PostSubject: Re: Fourth of July Fireworks   Fourth of July Fireworks EmptySat Jul 04, 2009 1:08 pm

Dick,

To borrow a phrase here lately, it doesn't get any worse than that.

A puny fireworks display with noise and color is superior to those you speak of.

Thanks Dick for sharing the story and for being here.

Carol
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Georgia

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PostSubject: Re: Fourth of July Fireworks   Fourth of July Fireworks EmptySat Jul 04, 2009 1:47 pm

Dick, did you see any of those tanks with the jury-rig pusher on the front that allowed them to go through rather than over those bloody hedgerows? I just saw them on Patton 360, and they looked rather like a fork lift that does on the front of a packhoe--except with more forks.

Malcolm
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

Number of posts : 3795
Registration date : 2008-05-04
Age : 94
Location : Akron, Ohio

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PostSubject: Re: Fourth of July Fireworks   Fourth of July Fireworks EmptySat Jul 04, 2009 2:40 pm

Yes, but tanks were almost useless in hedgerow country. The Germans could use them to good effect as defensive weapons and occasionally on offense. When the terrain was somewhat open, the 2nd Armored was able to do some good. The problem was that German tanks were far superior so in an actual tank battle such as occured near the town of Villibaudon even the 2nd Armored took a beating and it was the best we had.
The American light tanks were utterly useless. One day six of them were to accompany us in an attack across a field. The Germans fired five shots from either anti-tank guns or concealed tanks and knocked out five of them. The sixth turned and ran. German infantrymen then ran out, climbed into the knocked-out tanks and turned the guns on us. It was a total farce.
I saw an episode of that Patton series. He took a lot of credit for things done by the First Army. In December the 4th Division was in his Third Army. When my regiment was surrounded in Luxembourg it took Patton ten days to get relief to us. Then he turned the regiment in for a Presidential Unit Citatation. A lot of good that did. Patton was successful when there was little or no opposition. At other times he was no better than Bradley, Hodges or Patch. He talked more, though.
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Georgia

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PostSubject: Re: Fourth of July Fireworks   Fourth of July Fireworks EmptySat Jul 04, 2009 5:10 pm

Those tiger tanks were hard to stop. Patton liked being in the headlines! Nonetheless, he met his match at Metz.

Malcolm
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