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30th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mech) Timeline

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Slipdigit, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Over the next year or so, I will adding daily updates on the 30th Recon's actions and whereabouts 70 years ago. I will be using the troop's After Actions Reports, S-3 Journal, and the memory of Marion Sanford as a basis for each day's entry.

    11 June 1944, the troop has moved from Slough to Southampton and has been waiting to be ferried to Normandy as soon as beachhead space clears to adequately to accommodate the unit. Marion Sanford and his section are sequestered in a "sausage," waiting on orders to move.
     
    rkline56, OpanaPointer, Otto and 2 others like this.
  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I'm really looking forward to that. It will add to what is in the book. What a treasure trove.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    12 June, 1944

    30th Recon is still waiting to move. They had been waiting until shortly after June 6, with plans to cross on the 10th. Briefed on their objective (Carentan), they spend much of their time preparing to take the city.
    They never made it.
     
  5. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    14 June, 1944

    The 30th Recon is still waiting at Southampton to go to Normandy. There apparently was much activity about and some of the men of the 30th Recon were forgotten when meals were planned. Marion Sanford and some of his section resorted to scrounging around the buildings in which they were lodged for food and found cans of English Peas. The vehicles have been waterproofed.
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    15 June, 1944

    The 30th Recon loaded their assigned LCTs to finally began to move toward France. A total of three landing craft were required to lift the 44 vehicles and 154 officers and men.

    They did not get out of the harbor before being turned around.

    France would have wait for another day.
     
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    16 June, 1944

    The 30th Recon remains in Southampton another day.
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    17 June, 1944

    The 30th Recon lands across Omaha Beach, Normandy sometime in the afternoon. They drove up the bluffs to their assembly area inland.

    Marion Sanford recalls that the first vehicle (a jeep) off of their landing craft disappeared into an underwater shell hole and was lost. The occupants of the jeep are saved, along with their backpacks and anything else that would float.

    The halftrack that Sanford was assigned to caught fire near the top of the bluffs. The waterproofing on the engine burned and initially resisted being put out by handheld extinguishers. In an effort to douse the fire after the extinguishers were exhausted, Sanford dismounted his vehicle to scoop up some water and mud in his helmet from a nearby ditch. It was only after he saw the word "Minen" and set of skull and cross bones on a small sign that he realized that he stepped into a minefield. The halftrack crew got the engine compartment fire out after a short time and continued to the assembly area.
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    At about that time, the 30th Division (at about half-strength - much of the division still in transit) had assaulted a line along the vire-et-taut canal north of St. Lo and Marigny on the 15th and pushed the German 352 Infantry Division back to a new line. They were tied in on either side with the 1st and 29th Divisions. These three infantry divisions (1st, 29th and 30th) would team up through the course of the war. Most famously in the Siegfried line and the taking of Aachen.

    By the 17th, they had reached an area flooded by the Germans who had opened the gates all along the canal. Two Parisian students had taken it on their own to come to the area, scout the German positions and then cross the line into the 30th Division sector. Unfortunately, their names are not recorded, but the German positions they mapped became artillery targets and shaped the strategy for when the attack resumed.
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    18 June, 1944

    From the AAR - "Day was spent dewaterproofing the vehicles and preparing for the coming operations."

    The 30th Recon received a welcome from the Germans the night of 17 June in the form of artillery on the recon's position. No vehicles were destroyed but a large number of them had flat tires and holes in the radiators that needed repair. Marion Sanford stated that they worked well into the night of the 18th removing the waterproofing from all the vehicles and getting them all back in good running order.
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    19 June, 1944

    From the AAR:

    "Troop CP moved to 523715 and contact was made with 1st Bn 119th Infantry and 2nd Bn 175th Infantry."

    Grid coordinates 523715 translates into 49.19345° -1.06249° I found the field on Google Earth and it is still there with the hedgerow still around it. It is about 3 miles north of St Lo.
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    20 June, 1944

    30th Recon begins combat operations north of St. Lo.

    From the AAR:

    "1st Platoon patrolled gap along roads between 506704 and 513694. This gap was between 1st Bn 119th [30th ID] and 2nd Bn 175 Infantry [29th ID]. 2nd Platoon patrolled road between 502798 and 517775. The mission of the platoons was to maintain liaison between infantry units on their flanks and to allow no infiltration of Germans through the zone they were patrolling." [Brackets] are my additions.

    This was a relatively small area they were covering, just north of St Lo, on the boundary between the 30th and 29th Infantry Divisions. Marion Sanford and his friend, James Wilkerson, were attached to the 1st Platoon and would remain with them for a good portion of the Normandy Campaign. He said that most of the patrols were on foot at this time as vehicle traffic would draw small arms and artillery fire.
     
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    21 June, 1944

    From the AAR:

    "1st and 2nd Platoons continued patrolling their assigned zones. The first platoon was continually harassed by German patrols. These patrols showed no desire to pass through our lines but were content with spraying our zone with small arms automatic fire from a safe distance. The fire was very inaccurate and seemd to be mainly an effort to draw our fire and harass us.
    A patrol from the 3rd Platoon left the 1st Platoon are at 1800 to reconnoiter the town of La Meauffe and the woods immediately south of the town. This patrol found town clear but were driven back by heavy small arms and automatic fire from dug-in positiions in the edge of woods. Patrol returned at 2200."

    La Meuffe, France

    Due to the northern latitudes and adjustments to time keeping during the war, it was just getting dark at 2200 hrs. Marion Sanford said that it made for rather short nights and getting adequate sleep was an issue with sun rising only about 6 hours later.
     
  14. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    22 June, 1944

    From the AAR

    "1st and 2nd Platoons continued with same missions throught the day. They were still being harrassed, especially at night, by German automatic weapons fire. This fire was still very inaccurate."
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    23 June, 1944

    From the AAR:

    "1st and 2nd Platoons carried out the same mission of patrolling the roads in assigned zone. All the time the Germans had made no attempt to penetrate or infiltrate our lines at these points; they remained at a safe distance and fired in our general direction.

    A patrol was sent out at 1500 from the 2nd Platoon to reconnoiter woods at 495698 and 488694, also buildings at 484696. Patrol evidently was sighted by Germans in buildings and they vigorously attacked patrol and drove it back at 2300."

    Apparently the scouts waited until the sun had set to withdraw.

    The area they were scouting was east of La Meauffe, south of road number D54
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    24 June, 1944

    From the AAR:

    "1st and 2nd Platoon continued with same mission. At 1500 the same patrol was sent out from 2nd Platoon to reconnoiter the same woods and buildings that was attempted 23 June 1944. This patrol was again driven in by enemy action before its mission could be accomplished."
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    25 June, 1944

    From the AAR:

    "1st and 2nd Platoons continued patrolling roads and maintaining liaison between infantry units on their flanks. They were not bothered by German fire as much as during the preceeding [sic] day."
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    26 June 1944

    From the AAR:

    "2nd Platoon was given the mission of patrolling roads in the vicinity of 504803. 3rd Platoon took over the mission of 1st Platoon and continued the patrolling of roads between 506704 and 513694.
    A three-man patrol from 1st Platoon which had set out at 2100 25 June 1944, returned at 1600 26 June 1944 after reconnoitering area around St. Giles. They had previously, under cover of darkness, set up an outpost at 494686 to observe the town. Patrol was very successful. Patrol leader stated he took his time and carefully surveyed all ground before passing over it. Immediately upon seeing any German activity they backtracked and went around to continue on mission."

    St Giles is now a tiny village or large personal residence (it is hard to tell), no more than a spot in the road, just south of La Meaufe, about 3 miles north of St. Lo and appears to surrounded by a stone wall. I doubt it was much more than that then. The outpost coordinates translates into 49.16622 -1.10042, which was about 3000 feet SE of the village. The outpost was a good mile or so past their own lines, apparently concealed in what appears to be a hedgerow about 200 feet from a small road called Les Haulles. The road does not look important enough to warrant a road number and there are no building of note along it. The Vire River is on beyond both St. Giles and La Meaufe and runs roughly north/south at this point.

    The outpost was SE of St. Giles, looking back to the NW. St Lo was still a good 2.5 miles to the south of the outpost. The 30th Recon was on the seam between the 29th ID (to the west) and the 30th ID (to the east). It looks like the patrol moved south for a mile, set up the outpost, then turned back to the NW and worked their way toward St. Giles.

    I'm guessing they moved a total of about 3 1/2 to 4 miles while in German-held territory. I look at the satellite photos and see the maze of hedgerows. I understand that many have been removed since the war and I cannot imagine trying to navigate them at night without getting lost.
     
  19. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I've been using both.

    27 June 1944

    From the AAR:

    "2nd and 3rd Platoon continued their same road patrol missions. 2nd Platoon reported a great deal of German shelling which was inaccurate and apparently unobserved in most cases."

    In Normandy, Marion Sanford recalls experiencing a good bit of what he referred to "harassment shelling," especially at night. It seemed to him that the Germans would fire random artillery or mortars into their area or where the Germans thought that the 30th Recon was. The "bombardment" never did any real damage to vehicles, except maybe a flat tire from time to time and it injured no one as they all slept below ground level each night. He thought they were hit every night for about the first month.
     

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