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August 21 , 2008

Operation Overlord


Book Description: Pat was a teenage boy who came of age during the tumultuous times of World War II. He entered the Army during his eighteenth year as a voluntary inductee. Basic training was administered at Ft. Bragg N. C. After basic training, he was scheduled to be shipped to the South Pacific as a member of a pack artillery unit but an untimely bout of the flu forced a change in his assignment. He was placed in a replacement pool, a pool of young soldiers who would step into the vacancies caused by the inevitable casualties that would occur during the planned invasion of Europe, codenamed “Operation Overlord.” Pat shipped over seas in a small wooden vessel that once carried fruit from South America to Boston. It had been requisitioned to carry troops to Great Britain. It was a very large convoy that included Pat´s ship. The speed of the crossing was no greater than the speed of the slowest vessel in the fleet. The crossing took weeks in a constant attempt to evade German U Boats by an erratic course across the Atlantic. The port of debarkation was Liverpool, England. A troop train transported the soldiers from there to a military establishment in Cardiff, Wales. Here the soldiers continued to train and bide their time, waiting for the inevitable invasion of Europe. Soon the soldiers were transported to the Channel Coast where they remained on standby alert for the invasion to commence. D Day, June 6, 1944, arrived, Operation Overlord was unleashed. The gruesome casualties of Omaha Beach were endured and the beach head prevailed. Six days after D Day, the contingent of replacements that included Pat landed on Omaha Beach and fulfilled the purpose of their existence. They replaced the soldiers that had been killed or wounded in the preceding six days. Pat was assigned to the first howitzer gun crew of A Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. The Fifteenth Battalion was the artillery support and a part of the 9th Combat Team (9th CBT) that included the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. Pat learned his job as a 105 howitzer gun crew member as A Battery fired their guns in support of the 9th Infantry, moving from position to position through the French hedgerow country. He learned his job well and eventually was assigned the job as loader for his crew. Pat formed two close friendships in his military experience, Ed who he had known since basic training and Ben, the Texan on his crew, who became his pup-tent partner. After the successful conclusion of the Normandy Campaign, the 2nd Division was ordered to subdue the port city of Brest on the Breton Peninsula. A 220-mile road march brought the 2nd Division to the outskirts of the city. Brest was defended by a garrison of 36,000 German soldiers, the core of which were the vaunted 2nd Paratroop Division. After the surrender of the German garrison at Brest. Pat´s unit had a short respite before embarking on another road march of 710 miles through liberated France to the German boarder. The 15th Battalion took defensive positions in the Schnee Eiffel forest. Here for the next month, the 15th Battalion´s Artillery Batteries engaged in counter battery, observing and harassing fire missions in this sector of a thinly held front. Log bunkhouses and mess halls were constructed to combat the increasingly severe winter weather. German Buzz Bombs were observed here for the first time. Early December found the 9th CBT on the road heading north to begin an attack on the Siegfried Line. Pat and his buddies reluctantly gave up their comfortable quarters to a green division fresh from the States that relieved them. After heavy fighting and artillery bombardment, a critical crossroads on the Siegfried Line, Wehlerscheid, was taken, only to be given back the next day. The Germans had started their infamous winter offensive, The Battle of the Bulge. Our troops were ordered to withdraw several miles and establish a defensive line. This unprecedented withdraw
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