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2nd Armored Division - Roncey Pocket: 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion

Posted by Pierre Fallet on Dec 5, 2023 5:01:33 PM

During the closing of the Roncey Pocket, the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion had to reconnoiter the Combat Command “B” road of advance and then to cover the flanks and to go all the way to the Sienne River to take the crossing sites. This was necessary as to prevent the enemy to escape.

The order of mission was given as follows:

  • “A” Company had to cover the left flank of Combat Command “B” by maintaining contact with Combat Command “A”, and to seize the bridges between coordinates 248411 and coordinates359424 on the Sienne River (see the map below).

    Bridges along the Sienne River©IGNRemontetemps.com
  • “B” Company was the company in lead, it had to reconnoiter the main axis of Combat Command “B” from Canisy through Notre-Dame-de-Cenilly and Saint-Denis-le-Gast. Then to cut the possible escaping road of the enemy through Lengronne by establishing a roadblock at coordinates 278439, to seize the river crossing site at coordinates 243427.

    Capture décran 2023-12-05 143735
  • “C” Company was to cover the right flank of Command Combat “B” by keeping contact with the 3rd Armored Division, to turn the crossroad at Cambry into stronghold, to block the crossroads northwest of Trelly, and finally to seize and prepare for demolition the river crossing site at coordinates 219482.

Once orders have been given, the all unit assembled near Le Mesnil-Durand and advanced south toward Le Mesnil-Herman on July 27th at 0400am.

“A” Company moved south from Canisy along secondary roads but got lost at the east of the village of Quibou. It came back on the main Notre-Dame-de-Cenilly road by mistake, indeed they saw “B” Company. While in Quibou a Mark V had destroyed an assault gun, and boys of the company spent two hours looking for it, patrols and bazooka teams were sent but in vain. Finally, men started out once again and scouts loaded on trucks opened the way. The leading truck of the column ran around a blind corner and nearly struck the enemy tank, the driver managed to stop a bare five feet from the muzzle. According to the scouts, the tank crew had backed into a side road when they saw the bazooka teams and took position at coordinates 422573.

52594167116_7fb65ca5c2_oGerman Mark V Panther.

This unexpected situation made the belligerents frightened, both Americans and Germans ran out. The crew of the ¼ ton truck dismounted and took cover, but the Germans starting forward again and captured one American soldier who was placed on the front of armored vehicle.

From its positions “B” Company could see the action, gunners equipped with a 37mm gun began to shell the tank. Being under enemy shells, the tank crew pulled back, giving the opportunity to the prisoner to escape  with shells whistling around him.

Note: He will be successful in going back to his unit, and the Mark V was never seen again.

After this unexpected situation, “A” Company was once again on its way southward cross-country through Saint-Sauveur-du-Bonfossé and Notre-Dame-de-Cenilly, taking defensive positions for the night near the church at Saint-Martin-de-Cenilly.

E5jR1DVX0AwDxPllllsSoldiers of 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion working with the boys of the 41st Regiment.

Note: On the way down, they destroyed a German armored car loaded with ammunition, but in trying to pass the burning vehicle, Lieutenant Danford J. Bubolz was wounded and his own armored car destroyed.

While “A” Company was dealing with this Mark V tank, “B” and « C » Companies were held up in Quibou.

  • “B” Company by four Mark V tanks, 37mm shells did not damage them but just bounced harmlessly off their hulls.
  • According to Lieutenant-Colonel Wheeler G. Merriam, “C” Company was held up because “the roads were filled with people doing some fighting and so forth”.

Once Quibou under control “C” Company went down the main road through Dangy and met heavy small arms fire between the bridge at coordinates 402558 and the church in Dangy.

On the 28th of July, “A” Company didn’t have much trouble in moving cross-country to the Sienne River. All bridges were reached and secured and prepared for demolition with the exception of the bridge in Gavray (see the map above). It was impossible for the company to reach that bridge on the 28th because of an enemy strongpoint in the vicinity.

Note: Nevertheless “A” Company approached close enough to see that it was not blown up.

“C” Company had difficulties at the crossroad at coordinates 341476, the company was held by a dug-in antitank gun set up at coordinates 341482. That gun had a perfect field of fire this is why Lieutenant-Colonel Wheeler G. Merriam stated: “ I decided to back “C” Company up and run the vehicles through one at a time at fifty miles an hour. It worked. The gun fired as many as three shots at several vehicles, but there were no scratches”.

At darkness, the pressure made by the 3rd Armored Division forced the enemy to move southward in greater strength. Trying not to be isolated all elements of the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion withdrew that night and took position at coordinates 342476 in Saint-Denis-le-Gast (see the map below).

Capture décran 2023-12-05 134607

On the monring of July 29th, "A" Company passing through Le Bourg, went cross-crountry. The destination? Gavray and its bridge. This was the second attempt to seize the bridge, but once again when "A" Company approached the outskirts of the town, they have been welcomed by enemy tanks and half-tracks. 

Indeed, the Germans were so determined to protect the bridge as it was the only remaining crossing site for them to cross the Sienne River thus to escape.  Being pinned down, a radio message came in! The air corps was coming to blow up the bridge, everyone withdrew to defensive positions in and around Saint-Denis-le-Gast.  The last dat of July will be spent in mopping-up the area in the triangle bounded by the roads between Lengronne-Cambry-Saint-Denis-le-Gast. 

The whole area was raw meat splattered on burned and ruined vehicles. Lieutenant-Colonel Merriam believed "A" and "B" Companies took about 2,000 prisoners. 

Written by Pierre Fallet.

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