On the 14th of June, XIX Corps became operational, taking over the 29th Division, which despite the agonizing punishment it had sustained on landing, was fighting its way forward into the first of the hedgerows. The 30th Division came across the beach, and moved in on the right of the 29th. Our job was to get as far as we could and then hold, while First Army threw all the strength it could muster into cutting off and reducing Cherbourg. To test the German defense, an attack was ordered for the next day, and inched forward for three days through the terrain and defense that was to try American fighting qualities for more than a month. Finally the attack rested on the line of the Vire River and the Vire and Taute Canal. The Command Post moved to Castilly, little more than a chateau and a church at a crossroad.
You came by the church as you rounded the corner on the road from the beach, and there was a long lane of trees that met overhead, and if it was Sunday the French would be walking to or from church in their stiff black clothes, and not even looking curiously at Jeeps any more. The Command Post tents clung to the hedgerows, back to back in three fields, and down at the far corner of the field was the War Tent, a big British hospital tent, and close beside it the G-2 and G-3 tents. There was usually a liaison officer or two from one of the outfits sleeping on the grass if the sun was out, because he knew he was due for a hard night, and Colonel West and the G-3 Officers would go in and out. Down to the right at the far end was the General's caravan, and when he came up to the War Tent most everyone left. This got to be almost home after a while, and you came back to it with relief if you'd been up front, and maybe there would be a drink of Calvados around somewhere, and you'd wonder if they'd bomb the place that night. They certainly must know we were here by this time. But maybe we weren't important enough. There was the time that those two Jerries came in fast to begin a strafing run from over the schoolhouse, but it just happened that there were two P-47's loafing around behind a cloud on the other side; who jumped them before they could start, and shot one down over to the west. But every night there was plenty of fireworks over the beaches, and we slept in our slit trenches most nights. The 12th AA Group set up in business, and began the shooting.
Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
Text below in black is excerpted from the XIX Corps Newspaper (from my archives)
G-I Section, Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, c/o Postmaster, N.Y.
Mary W. Garner, SK2c
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, Minnesota (6)
"Somewhere in France" 24 June 1944
Well it has been quite a while since I wrote you last. I received two letters and one package from you yesterday. I thank you for the hard candy. I also received three letters from Gwen and one from Souil. Boy that was some haul.
Of course you can see my location has been changed a little. I'm sorry I haven't been able to write sooner but I guess you can understand. I'm glad you have finally received the letter Gwen wrote you. I have given her the low-down on you don't worry. Well it wasn't that bad so don't worry about it. I think she has written several letters since then.
Well this is funny country and peculiar people, at least in this area. Of course, I guess we could expect that at the present time. The weather is a little better and right now it seems like summer time but it will change shortly. I'm still wearing O.P's and also a heavy woolen undershirt and am not too warm believe it or not.
Well, how are things with you these days? say, don't you think you are something? for your 1st class rating already. Well, Sis good luck to you and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
I'm glad you were able to get that purse for Gwen. Thanks a lot. Do I owe you any more money? Please let me know.
Well, Sis there is really not much to say right now so I'll close for now and hope to hear from you real soon again.
Lots of Love,