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Chapter I




Chapter Index


First Action

26 June, 1944, was rainy in Normandy. The 3rd Armored Division had already come through the milling activity of Omaha Beach. Vehicles were de-water-proofed, and men and machines were made ready in the crowded assembly areas.

Activity was at a feverish pitch. Combat Command "A" was ordered to move by infiltration to the zone of the 29th Infantry Division, prepared to repel enemy counter-attacks in that zone. The reorganization of the tank regiments was in progress. This reorganization removed the light battalions as entities, and resulted in the formation of three like battalions of two medium companies and one light company each.

The composition of Battalions in the two Armored Regiments is shown in the following table:



A Co (Light Tanks)
D Co (Medium Tanks)
G Co (Medium Tanks)

B Co (Light Tanks)
E Co (Medium Tanks)
F Co (Medium Tanks)

C Co (Light Tanks)
H Co (Medium Tanks)
I Co (Medium Tanks)


A Co (Light Tanks)
F Co (Medium Tanks)
I Co (Medium Tanks)

B Co (Light Tanks)
D Co (Medium Tanks)
E Co (Medium Tanks)

C Co (Light Tanks)
G Co (Medium Tanks)
H Co (Medium Tanks)

The following three days were spent in further preparation. Division Artillery fired some missions under Corps control. Combat Command "A", in the zone of the 29th Infantry Division, prepared for its first action.

On 29 June there existed an enemy salient in the zone of the 29th Division. This salient was some three thousands yards deep and protected the town of VILLIERS-FOSSARD just east of the Vire River. The mission given Combat Command "A" was to reduce this salient, seize and hold VILLIERS-FOSSARD until relieved by the 29th Division. The troop list for this operation was:


3rd Bn, 32nd Armd Regt
3rd Bn, 36th Armd Inf Regt
A Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Bn
C Co, 23rd Armd Engr Bn (- 1 Sqd.)
5 Tank Dozers

2nd Bn, 32nd Armd Regt
2nd Bn, 36th Armd Inf Regt
B Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Bn
A Co, 23rd Armd Engr Bn (- 1 Sqd.)
5 Tank Dozers

1st Bn. 32nd Armd Regt
1st Bn. 36th Armd Inf Regt
703rd Tank Destroyer Bn (-2 Co's)
Rcn Co, 32nd Armd Regt
2 Sqds Engrs
1 Angle Dozer

Service Co, 32nd Armd Regt
Maint Co, 32nd Armd Regt
Service Co, 36th Armd Inf Regt
Co A, Maint Bn, 3rd Armd Div.
Co A, 45th Armd Med Bn

54th Armd FA Bn, Direct Support TFY
54th Armd FA Bn, Direct Support TFX
391st Armd FA Bn, General Support
967th FA Bn, General Support

Defending this salient in the sector where Combat Command "A" attacked, was a strongly reinforced Fusilier Battalion of the 353rd Infantry Division. Their position was well prepared and supported by a normal artillery compliment and anti-tank weapons. Their defensive pattern took full advantage of the small hedge-bound fields and a little stream that ran just north of VILLIERS-FOSSARD. It was known that tanks could not negotiate the thickly built-up hedge rows until Tank Dozers (ordinary tanks to which bulldozer blades were attached) cleared a passage way, so each Task Force in the assault was given some of these improvised weapons.

At 0900 on 29 June, the attack was launched with two Task Forces abreast and one in reserve. Task Force X attacked on the left, and Task Force Y, on the right. Following the artillery preparation, there was a short, rapid advance. Task Force X reached La Forge-Bois de BRETEL at 1130 and was ordered to remain there. The tank and infantry teams of Task Force Y advanced slowly against the enemy's well dug-in positions, and reached the little stream north of VILLIERS-FOSSARD. The next day the attack was resumed. Both Task Forces pressed forward to the objective, where they stabilized and secured the position until they were relieved by elements of the 29th Division.

Troops of the 3rd Armored learned much in this, their first combat. It was a simple, straightforward action, but it showed the tankers and infantrymen alike, how their enemy could fight, even when faced by overpowering odds. They learned what it was to face the withering small-arms fire and to advance through mortar and artillery barrage. They learned that the well concealed German bazooka and panzerfaust teams were as dangerous to a medium tank as a high velocity anti-tank gun. And they learned that tanks and infantry together can fight in almost any type of terrain even the Bocage hedge rows. The losses were relatively high:


However, there is no doubt but the lessons learned saved many lives in the sensational drives that these men were soon to make.

Chapter Index


There were no further combat operations until 9 July. The 3rd Armored Division was at that time in the zone of the 30th Division. They had crossed the Vire River at AIREL under heavy enemy artillery fire and occupied a shallow bridgehead held by the 30th Division. When the occupation of this bridgehead was completed, Combat Command "B" was attached to the 30th Division and ordered to attack south toward ST. GILLES. Combat Command "A" was ordered to protect the right flank of XIX Corps and to attack in the direction of LES LENDES and LE PERRY. Combat Command "A" made some slow progress toward its objective, and, on 10 July, was attached to the 9th Infantry Division of the VII Corps. On 11 July, Combat Command "A" was moved to the vicinity of ST. JEAN de DAYE to counter an enemy tank threat. Here the tank companies were parceled out to infantry regiments, and, in conjunction with elements of the 9th Division, CCA fought a stiff and successful defensive action against some choice elements of the Wehrmacht, principally paratroops strongly supported by tanks.

Combat Command "B" during this period was engaged in the battle of HILL 91, or HAUT VENTS. A task force commanded by Colonel DORRANCE ROYSDON, took HILL 91 on 10 July with a badly depleted force. On 11 July they were driven off, and then proceeded to retake the hill and hold it in the face of very heavy resistance by the enemy. The hill got hotter and hotter. Numerous counter-attacks were thrown at Colonel ROYSDON's force. Relieving elements from the 30th Division finally reached and relieved him at 1430 on 16 July.

During this period Combat Command "B" had contributed largely to the defeat of an abortive attempt by the Panzer Lehr Division to take ISIGNY. The Panzer Lehr was fresh; it bad excellent new equipment; but it took a terrific beating at HAUT VENTS, FONT HEBERT and BELLE LANDE.

Our losses from 9 to 15 July (inclusive):


On 16 July both Combat Commands reverted to Division control, and the Division assembled just west of ST. JEAN DE DAYE on 17 July. The 3rd Armored Division was now in VII Corps.

It was during this period that the fast spreading gas alarm came. Early on the evening of 21 July the first alarm was sounded, based on information that passed like the wind from unit to adjacent unit. On the following day, again in the evening, there were four more such alarms causing a widespread scrambling for masks. All of these alarms proved false. They were based on smells and sights that the troops soon learned to identify as normal battlefield occurrences. None of the rumors were originated in the units of the 3rd Armored Division, but they spread there as elsewhere.

The rest period was also disturbed by a noticeable increase in Luftwaffe activity. The enemy planes usually came just as the last squadrons of P-47's and P-38's left the area. They dropped flares and bombed in widely scattered areas and not in any very great strength; usually two and three plane elements operated together. Division Trains suffered a few casualties on the night of 23 July from bombing and strafing. Other elements of the division suffered light casualties from enemy air action during the same period.

From 18 to 25 July the Division refitted. On the 25th its strength was about:


Chapter Index


The SAINT LO breakthrough was all set and waited only on the weather. The period 22-24 July was one of almost continual rain. On the morning of 26 July the weather broke, and the greatest air show of the war prepared the way for the breakthrough out of Normandy.

The breakthrough was to be in the zone of VII Corps. A rectangular area about three miles by five miles between MARIGNY and ST. GILLES (see sketch No 2) was the target of the" saturation bombardment by elements of both the 8th and 9th Air Forces.

The 9th Infantry Division, on the west, was to attack through this saturated area and seize and hold the right flank of the penetration. The 30th Infantry Division, on the east, was to attack south, seize and hold the line CERENCES, TESSY SUR VIRE, SAINT LO. The 4th Infantry Division was to seize the high ground in the vicinity of and east of CERISY LA SALLE.

The 1st Infantry Division (Combat Command "B", 3rd Armored Division attached) was then to move through the sector of the 9th Division, turn west near LE SAULT and secure the COUTANCES area, thereby extending the line of the 9th Division, and cutting off the enemy facing the VIII Corps on the west.

The 3rd Armored Division (less Combat Command B) would then move rapidly through the 4th Division, seize the south exits of COUTANCES and secure the south flank of the 1st Division between HYMOUVILLE and CERISY LA SALLE.

The 2nd Armored Division, further to the east, was to move through the sector of the 30th Division, push south and then west and secure the line CERENCES - ST. DENIS LE GAST.

The attack moved successfully. On 26 July Combat Command "B", attached to the 1st Division, had fought its way to a position just west of MARIGNY. Continuing the attack to the west the next day, elements of Combat Command "B" reached MONTHUCHON. Then, on 28 July, they were in sight of COUTANCES. They did not get into the city, but were ordered to turn back east and assist the 1st Division in reducing an enemy strong point near COMPROND.

On 25 and 26 July, the 3rd Armored (less Combat Command "B") remained in assembly areas west of St. JEAN DE DAYE. Then, on 27 July, they attacked south at 0630. Initially the road craters caused by the saturation bombing and a bypassed enemy pocket south of MARIGNY slowed the advance. This enemy strong point near ST. BENOIT, estimated at one infantry battalion, was later bypassed, and the Combat Command reached LE SAULT.

The next day Combat Command "A" turned southwest toward MONTPINCHON, one of the Division's objectives. There was moderate enemy resistance all day, principally infantry, but anti-tank fire was encountered and scattered groups of tanks were met. By night, Combat Command "A" had forces in position to attack the enemy-held MONTPINCHON from the northeast and southeast.

On 29 July, German columns were moving south on all possible roads. One column with many armored vehicles tried to use a secondary road through MONTPINCHON and RONCEY. Near ST. DENIS LE GAST the 2nd Armored Division had effectively blocked this road. About fifty German tanks (probably part of the column trying to escape to the south) were in the vicinity of MONTPINCHON. These tanks added greatly to the ·strength of the already strong position at MONTPINCHON. Combat Command "A" was ordered to bypass the strongpoint to the north and south. Meanwhile, the supporting groups of fighter bombers were becoming cognizant of the situation around RONCEY where enemy vehicles were in double columns and bumper to bumper, and MONTPINCHON, where the defenders were virtually surrounded. In this area the Air Corps got in one of its most telling blows. All friendly vehicles were notified to keep their identification markings prominently displayed while the P-47's worked from ST. DENIS LE GAST to MONTPINCHON. When the bombing and strafing were finished, a single battle group from Combat Command "A" tended to mopping up MONTPINCHON. Another battle group was sent through RONCEY. Roads and streets had to be cleared with bulldozers. During the remainder of the afternoon and night the SOULLE River was bridged, and Combat Command "A" reached BELVAL.

Combat Command "B" reverted to Division control and moved from COMPROND to LA VILLEDERIE.

On the 30th July Combat Command "A" was attached to the 1st Division and Combat Command "B" to the 4th Division.


32nd Armd Regt
3rd Bn, 36th Armd Inf Regt
2nd Bn, 26th Inf Regt (1st Div)
Co A, 703rd TD Bn
Co A & C, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
54th Armd FA Bn
67th Armd FA Bn
Co A, 413th AAA Bn
Btrys B & C, 486th AAA Bn
Co A, Maint Bn, 3rd A. D.
Co A, 45th Armd Med Bn

33rd Armd Regt
36th Armd Inf Regt (- 3rd Bn)
83rd Armd Rcn Bn
Co B & C, 703rd TD Bn
Co B & D, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
391st Armd FA Bn
58th Armd FA Bn
Co B, 413th AAA Bn
Btrys A & D, 486th AAA Bn
Co C, 45th Armd Med Bn
Co C, Maint Bn, 3rd A. D.

When this attachment became effective, Combat Command "A" had moved south through the still cluttered RONCEY area and established a bridgehead across the SIENE River. In this crossing operation, Lt. Col. Doan, commanding Task Force X, personally led his infantry across the river when they were stopped by heavy enemy fire from the opposite bank. His action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross. Combat Command "B" had advanced south, and elements had forded the river at LA SAYERIE and reached position on the Division objective west of VILLEDIEU-LES-POELES. A bridge was under construction.

The next objective for Combat Command "A" was MORTAIN.. The See River had to be crossed. This was accomplished just south of BRECEY on 1 August. Then they were in the enemy's rear areas and moving fast. It was a job well suited to the employment of armor. German service troops as well as combat elements were completely surprised, and the tanks had a brief field day. Severe actions occurred at JUVIGNY LE TERTRE and REFUVIEILLE where the Germans managed to organize very well. MORTAIN was reached on 2 August. For two hard-fought days the enemy attempted to retake the high ground around JUVIGNY, but Combat Command "A" held its gains.

Combat Command "B", meanwhile, had bypassed VILLEDIEU-LES-POELES and moved toward SAINT POIS. At this time they were given the new objective of CHERENCE-LE-ROUSSEL. The next day, 5 August, the Combat Command was attached to the 1st Division and ordered to make a bridgehead over the SEE river in the vicinity of CHERENCE-LE-ROUSSEL. This mission was accomplished, and Combat Command "B" held the bridgehead until relieved by elements of the 30th Division on 6 August.

On 5 August, Combat Command "A" was ordered to move deeper into enemy territory. The objective was AMBRIERES LE GRAND on the MAYENNE River, and the route ran through BUAIS and LE TEILLEUL. Scattered opposition was met, but the Combat Command reached its objective on 6 August. One Battle Group was sent to BARENTON, where it was attached to the 2nd Armored Division and remained in that status until 12 August. Strong patrols went Into DOMFRONT and LASSAY.

Chapter Index


The 30th Infantry Division relieved the 1st Infantry Division at MORTAIN, and almost immediately found itself in dead serious trouble. The enemy had massed his forces, principally armor, and launched an all out effort to the west. His intentions were to seize AVRANCHES and cut off the allied forces to the south thereof completely from their supplies. The main weight of this attack fell on the 30th Division in the vicinity of MORTAIN.

At 0245 on 7 August the counter attack first struck in force. The 120th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division was driven out of MORTAIN, and before morning the attack had carried to LE MESNIL TOVE. A complete battalion was cut off on a hill east of MORTAIN.

Combat Command "B" of the 3rd Armored Division had been fighting continuously for 12 days and was just closing into what was to be a rest and maintenance area in the vicinity of REFUVIEILLE, when word of the German counter-attack was received. At 0730 on 7 August, Combat Command "B" was attached to the 30th Infantry Division, and at 1050 orders were received to send out strong reconnaissance forces to LE MESNIL ADELEE and CUVES.

The Combat Command was divided into four Task Forces for this operation:

1st Bn, 33rd Armd Regt
1st Bn, 36th Armd Inf Regt
Rcn Co, 33rd Armd Regt
1 Pl. Co C, 703rd TD Bn
1 Pl. Co B, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
Med, Maint Detachments

2nd Bn, 33rd Armd Regt
2nd Bn, 36th Armd Inf Regt
Co A, 83rd Armd Rcn Bn
1st Pl., Co B, 703rd TD Bn
2nd Pl., Co C, 703rd TD Bn
2nd Pl., Co B, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
Med, Maint Detachments

3rd Bn, 33rd Armd Regt
2nd Bn, 119th Inf (atchd)
Co B, 83rd Armd Rcn Bn
3rd Pl., Co "C", 703rd TD Bn
3rd Pl., Co "B", 23rd Armd Engr Bn
Med, Maint Detachments

83rd Armd Rcn Bn (- Cos A & B)
Co B, 703rd TD Bn (- 1st Pl.)
Co D, 23rd Armd Engi Bn
Co C, 703rd TD Bn (- 3 Pls)
Co B, 23rd Armd Engr Bn (- 3 Pls)
Co B, 45th Armd Med Bn
Co C, Maint Bn, 3rd A. D.
Det Co E, 23rd Armd Engr Bn

391st Armd FA Bn
87th Armd FA Bn
Btrys A & D, 486th AAA Bn

By 1610 on 7 August the leading elements of Task Force 1 had reached a point east of LE MESNIL ADELEE, and, since the Infantry following did not come up, Task Force 1 was forced to dig in and establish all-around defenses for the night. In the meantime, Task Force 2, meeting light resistance on its reconnaissance mission towards CUVES, was pulled back and ordered to launch an attack towards JUVIGNY LE TERTRE. Almost immediately this Task Force ran into very poor tank terrain and very heavy enemy resistance.

On 8 August Task Force 1 moved via LE MESNIL ADELEE to take LE MESNIL TOVE. Task Force 1 was attached to the 119th Regimental Combat Team and led the attack on LE MESNIL TOVE. Fierce fighting followed, and losses on both sides were heavy. In general, the mission was to seize and secure LE MESNIL TOVE and to establish a contact with the 8th Infantry Regiment which was pushing down from the north.

The enemy was employing crack armored troops in an effort to cut our forces by a drive along the CHERENCE - LE ROUSSEL - LE MESNIL ADELEE - AVRANCHES corridor. Throughout the day heavy fighting took place. Terrain was very difficult for employment of armor, but tanks continued to do battle where infantry might have fared better. Twice during the day the force suffered loss of ground, but by nightfall contact had been made with the 8th Regimental Combat Team at CHERENCE LE ROUSSEL. In the meantime, Task Force 3 was moved to LE MENTS and placed on an alert to go to the aid of either Task Force 1 or Task Force 2. The 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion outposted the Combat Command area to the south and east.

Throughout the day and night of 9 August, Task Force 1, placed well in front of the remainder of the 119th Combat Team, to which this Task Force was attached, continued to hold its ground at LE MESNIL TOVE, but was sustaining very heavy casualties.

At daybreak Task Force 2 launched an attack via JUVIGNY LE TERRE to establish a roadblock east thereof. By early afternoon, the mission was accomplished. The right flank of the 119th was contacted and Task Force 2 was also placed under control of the 119th Combat Team. The south side of the German counter-attack was now shored up, and Task Force 3 of Combat Command "B", with a battalion of the 119th Infantry Regiment attached, was ordered to attack to the east through the zone of the 120th Infantry Regiment and then towards the north to seize the Road Junction 238 just north of MORTAIN. By 1400, the force was rolling against light resistance and continued until the turn north was made. At this point, they met the enemy in strength, defending with artillery, anti-tank guns, tanks and bazookas. The Task Force Commander out-maneuvered the enemy tanks encountered and bypassed much of the resistance, but although only one hundred yards from the objective by late evening, the bitter resistance of the enemy forced the Task Force to go into a defensive leaguer for the night. They were ordered to hold at all costs until relieved by the 12th Regimental Combat Team.

For the next two days and nights, fierce fighting went on continuously. The Task Force was cut off on all sides for a greater part of this time and the relief unit was unable to make contact. Counter-attack after counter-attack was launched by the enemy, but the Task Force held its ground against superior forces. It can be readily seen that these battles played a major part in disrupting the whole German counter-attack. By sealing off the advance to the west, Task Forces 1 and 2 played decisive parts.

When the enemy elected to drive to the south, he threatened to cut off MORTAIN and the vital supply links of the First U. S. Army, which, by this time, had driven far to the south and to the east of MORTAIN and was rolling towards Paris. Here Task Force 3 played a major part. The enemy did everything in his power to keep open the gap between Task Force 3 and the supporting elements to the west and to keep open the road leading through MORTAIN. Task Force 3 held its ground in spite of severe infantry losses and the loss of 23 of its tanks. By 12 August, the German counter-attack had spent itself.

The Air Corps had paralyzed his supply columns and chopped reinforcement troops to pieces.

When the withdrawal of the German forces began, the offensive had not gained the momentum that the Germans had hoped for. The 116th Panzer Division was the principal attacking unit, and it was cut to pieces, losing one-third to one-half of its effective strength. On the north of the 116th, the 85th German Infantry Division, already battered, suffered further. And to the south, remnants of the 2nd and 17th SS Divisions took their share of the drubbing. The attack was never properly coordinated, and consequently gained little for its severe losses.

On the 7 August Major General (then Brigadier General) Maurice Rose took command of the 3rd Armored Division. By 12 August, all units were again under division control. The strength of the division was approximately:


Again supply and replacements had worked miracles to achieve a comeback. The value of combat experience gained could not be measured.

Chapter Index


On 12 August the Division moved into new assembly areas west of MAYENNE and prepared to attack to the northeast on the following day.

The British, driving south from CAEN, and the American First Army, pushing eastward, had created a potential trap around a considerable portion of Field Marshal Von Kluge's Seventh Army. The escape gap of this trap later became defined between FALAISE and ARGENTAN. The 3rd Armored Division was going to be in at the kill.

Division Field Order Number 6 fixed the Division axis of advance: MAYENNE - PRE EN PAIL - CARROUGES - PANES. At 0530 on the morning of 13 August the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion crossed the line of departure and the Division was moving toward RANES - FROMENTEL and to some of the bitterest fighting of the war. The objective was the high ground around RANES.

Combat Command "A", following the reconnaissance screen, led the Division attack in two parallel columns. Task Force X, commanded by Lt. Colonel Doan, was on the right and Task Force Y, commanded by Lt Colonel Richardson, was on the left. Elements of the 728th German Infantry Regiment were encountered in JAVRON and COUPTRAIN. Anti-tank and machine gun fire was encountered at other points, but by 2030 hours elements of Task Force X were at RANES.

Task Force Y had finally bypassed the strong enemy position near COUPTRAIN, and, at the end of the day, had covered about one-third of the distance from COUPTRAIN to RANES. Task Force 1 of Combat Command "B" in conjunction with part of Division Reserve was in contact with the enemy in some strength just north and east of COUPTRAIN. The remainder of the Division was in and around PRE EN PAIL. The 60th Infantry Regiment was attached to the 3rd Armored Division for this operation. It was in Division Reserve.

The area between PRE EN PAIL and RANES became a battle area. There were no particular front lines, and contact was everywhere. The road from CARROUGES to RANES was littered with both German and American tanks and other equipment destroyed in the running fight.

On 14 August, Task Force X attempted to extend their position to the north but were unsuccessful. Elements of the 1st and 9th SS Divisions made strong counter-attacks from both the north and south. All were repulsed. Task Force Y attempted to join Task Force X at RANES. They met strong resistance at JOUE DU BOIS. When they couldn't overcome this resistance, they bypassed it to the east and got about halfway between JOUE DU BOIS and RANES by dark.

The 3rd Battalion, 33rd Armored Regiment, was ordered to move on a route further to the east and reinforce Task Force X in RANES. This battalion encountered some resistance, but reached RANES at 1800 hours.

JOUE DU BOIS was assigned as an objective for Division Reserve. Operation against this town was not completed until elements of the 9th Infantry Division relieved elements of the 3rd Armored Division.

Combat Command "B" seized LA MOTTE FOUQUET. Elements of the Division during the day took about 1300 prisoners and destroyed 16 enemy tanks. Supporting dive bombers destroyed many other tanks and vehicles.

Chapter Index


On 15 August fighting continued to be heavy. At the close of the day, the entire Division was in a tight position around RANES. The attack of Combat Command "A" toward FROMENTEL had not progressed much beyond the outskirts of RANES, but 500 more prisoners were taken.

The next morning, 16 August, the 3rd Armored launched a coordinated attack toward FROMENTEL. Combat Command "A" met tank resistance and heavily defended roadblocks, causing their attack to move slowly. At about 1230, the covering shell cracked a little, and the Combat Command advanced rapidly to LA NOGUERIE. Then at 1500, the Germans launched a counterattack in some strength. This caused Combat Command "A" to withdraw about a thousand yards. At 1630 the advance continued and by 2200 there was fighting on the outskirts of FROMENTEL.

Combat Command "B" followed a route generally to the west of Combat Command "A". They met heavy resistance all the way. By dark Task Force 1 had reached LES YVETEAUX just southwest of FROMENTEL and Task Force 2 leaguered a little to the southeast of Task Force 1. Fifteen enemy tanks were destroyed and 400 more prisoners were taken.

During the day of 17 August, Combat Command "A" fought its way into FROMENTEL from the east. Task Force 1 of Combat Command "B" attempted to launch an attack on FROMENTEL from the southwest in conjunction with Combat Command "A"'s attack, but such heavy resistance was met that the town itself was not reached. At about 1700 when all but the western part of the town had been cleared of the enemy, flights of P-38s heavily bombed FROMENTEL. Combat Command "A" was forced to withdraw, and small forces of Germans reoccupied the center and western parts of the town. At 1900 hours Company C of the 32nd Armored Regiment was sent into FROMENTEL and the friendly planes made the same mistake again. This time the eastern part of the town was retained by Combat Command "A".

Task Force 2 (Lt Col. King), the other half of Combat Command "B", attacked to seize the high ground at LA PIERRE HUREL-MESNIL JEAN. This Task Force fought stubborn resistance all day. At about 1600 hours they got across the railroad east of FROMENTEL, seized HILL 216 south of PUTANGES, and leaguered for the night just south of their objective.

Task Force "Hogan" from Division Reserve, in conjunction with elements of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, protected the Division right flank by seizing the road junction west of ECOUCHE. During the day, as for days previously, the German Army streamed south and east between FALAISE and ARGENTAN. About twelve hundred enemy vehicles passed the front of the 3rd Armored Division that day, receiving artillery fire and attack from the air all the way.

A coordinated attack by Combat Command "B" gained the objective at PUTANGES at 1210, and at 1237 on 18 August, Sergeant Donald Ekdahl of the 33rd Armored Regiment met advance elements of British armor on the road near PUTANGES. Other such meetings occurred to our right and left. The so-called FALAISE gap was closed. The operation was more accurately described as a "squeeze-play", since the enemy, by fanatical and skillful rear-guard action, succeeded in keeping his escape routes open until the major portion of his forces were extricated from the potential trap.

Combat Command "A" completed mopping up in FROMENTEL.

Combat Command "B" held its objective, the high ground south of PUTANGES.

Elements of Division Reserve mopped up the TREIZE SAINTS-BATILLY area and Task Force "Hogan" remained on his objective.

The 60th Infantry Regiment was released at 0800 on 19 August.

The whole battle of RANES-FROMENTEL was close-in fighting with a "Fluid Front." Tanks and tank destroyers had many engagements at ranges less than one hundred yards. Elements of the Division frequently found themselves engaged in stiff fights on ground already passed over by other elements of the Division. The enemy was everywhere, and frequently had no idea where American troops were, hence many surprise engagements were fought.

During this operation, as in some later ones, the Reconnaissance Battalion was busy establishing roadblocks on both flanks and sometimes to the rear of the Division. They served also to maintain communication between units by means of patrols.

Next Chapter: Seine to Siegfried

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