World War II Honor Roll

Philip Coates Walton

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army


Company B
81st Chemical Mortar Battalion

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: June 6, 1944
Buried at: Section I Lot 150
                  Colestown Cemetery
                  Kings Highway and Church Road
                  Cherry Hill NJ 08002
Awards: Purple Heart

SECOND LIEUTENANT PHILIP COATES WALTON was born in Merchantville NJ on November 28, 1910. He was the son of Coates and Elizabeth Walton. His grandfather was Charles Woolman Taylor, regimental quartermaster of the 10th New Jersey Volunteers during the Civil War.

By 1928 the family lived at 4 Church Road in Merchantville, and his father was working as an insurance agent-broker. He graduated from Camden High School in Camden NJ in June of 1928.

Philip Coates Walton entered  Rutgers University in September 1928, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in June of 1932. He enjoyed bird-watching, and was elected a member of the Delaware Valley Ornithology Club in 1937. In 1938 he became a member of the American Ornithologists Association. He was then living at 28 Gilmore Avenue in Merchantville. In January of that year he purchase copy 109 of the book Bird Studies of Old Cape May, by Witmer Stone, who inscribed, "for Philip C. Walton with the regards of Witmer Stone. Jan. 6, 1938." Only 1400 copies of this book were ever printed. 

Philip C. Walton entered military service in March of 1942, and initially served with the Third Evacuation Hospital in South Carolina. After spending some time in hospital in Washington, D.C. with a case of jaundice, he was sent to the Twelfth Evacuation Hospotal at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Just before the Twelfth was to be sent overseas, Philip C. Walton was selected for Officers Candidate School in the Amy's Chemical Warfare service. After completing the training at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the spring of 1943. Second Lieutenant Walton was assigned to Company B of the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion and joined the unit at Fort D.A. Russell, just outside of Marfa, Texas.

Below are excerpts from letters that Philip C. Walton wrote to fellow ornithologist Robert L. Haines, detailing, as best could be allowed given that all letters were subject to military censorship, his travels, the countryside, and birds encountered. The last letter was dated May 26, 1944.

Also below is the text from the Unit History of the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion, from the time when Philip C. Walton joined the unit through the evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944 when the battalion landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy. 

Concerning Philip C. Walton's actions on D-day, the Unit History reads as follows:

B Company's mission was to land on Dog Green Beach and provide direct support for the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry. Because the water obstacles had not been cleared and the beach was under heavy mortar, small arms, and artillery fire, the control boat ordered the wave to land instead on Easy Green, the left flank of Omaha Beach. As the boats were running along parallel to the beach, about 1,000 yards offshore, two of the LCVPs were hit and disabled by artillery. Despite an extremely heavy sea and the continual harassing fire from enemy machine guns and other direct-fire weapons, all personnel and equipment were safely transferred to an empty LCT. At approximately 0930 hours the entire wave was safely beached. Here the company was reorganized and moved inland about 100 yards.

At this time only a small section of the beach was held by American troops, and enemy fire was still inflicting heavy casualties. It was not until late in the afternoon that part of the company was able to move to a bluff overlooking the beach and fire its first mission. The first round was fired by Sgt Florio's squad at 1700 hours at a machine gun nest in the woods near St. Laurent-sur-Mer. Later in the evening it was found that nine men and two officers were missing; otherwise the company was intact. It was learned later that Lt. Walton, Cpl. Grob, and Pvt. Skaleski died of wounds received on the beach.

In order to accomplish its mission, the company was forced to advance through one of the uncleared mine fields found everywhere about the beach. During this move, PFC Rone was injured by an anti-personnel mine and later died.

Second Lieutenant Philip Coates Walton died of wounds on June 6, 1944 on during the D-Day invasion.  He was awarded the Purple Heart. After the war his remains were brought home, and he was buried in Colestown Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill) NJ on December 6, 1947.

Philip Coates Walton
and his family lived in this home
4 Church Road
Merchantville NJ

Photographs taken December 31, 2002

Excerpts from Letters to Robert L. Haines

Excerpts from the


On April 2, 1943, the first contingent of the battalion left Fort D.A. Russell for Leesville, Louisiana, and on the following day the rest of the battalion followed. The grand send-off the people of Marfa gave will long be remembered by those present. They were truly sorry to see us go. The 81st had made a wonderful impression on them and had gained many friends. A military band from the airfield nearby serenaded the train as it left the station. The first phase of our military career was over, and ahead of us lay the task of preparing ourselves for combat by vigorous operations in the field.

II. Maneuvers and Training in the U.S.

Louisiana Maneuvers

The 81st Chemical Battalion arrived at Camp Polk, Louisiana, on April 5, 1943, where it participated in maneuvers in conjunction with the 85th Division until May 4. The battalion gained much experience in the reconnaissance, selection and occupation of mortar positions and in the tactical employment of mortars in support of an infantry division. This was its first experience in operating with troops other than its own. Probably the biggest problem during these operations was that of supply and mess. Many times the companies "sweated out" the mess trucks, but in most instances, the "chow" came through. This was also the unit's first experience at living in the field for a prolonged period, and the chiggers, ticks, "piney woods rooters," snakes, and rain torrents of it all did their best to make it an arduous one.

The rumors flew wide and free from every latrine in the area, especially after a showdown inspection in which all equipment was brought up to combat strength and serviceability, but "we cooled off" for a while.

For the battalion, Louisiana maneuvers constituted a good shakedown. It demonstrated our limitations and possibilities, and the things that must be accomplished before the peak of efficiency could be reached. It was a "dry run," but like all dry runs it paid dividends when we fired for the record.

It was in Louisiana on Easter Sunday that the battalion held its first anniversary and Col. James presented to the unit, in a colorful ceremony, its battalion colors on which was portrayed its insignia and motto. Col. James devised the insignia while the battalion was stationed at Texas. The shield has a field of blue and gold, signifying the colors of the Chemical Warfare Service. A spouting volcano, a replica of Cathedral Mountain, which is the outstanding landmark for miles around Fort D.A. Russell, is rampant on a golden background. The spout of smoke and flame was added to signify our future mission of smoking and burning the enemy. Subjacent to this is the Lone Star of Texas on a field of blue. Below the shield is a scroll bearing the battalion's motto, "Equal to the Task," picked from many submitted to Col. James. To Lt. Bundy (then M/Sgt) goes the credit for devising that phrase. How prophetic those words were will be proven in the pages to follow.

Amphibious Maneuvers at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

On May 6, 1943, the 81st arrived at Camp Gordon Johnston, Carrabelle, Florida, for participation in amphibious commando and physical training. The battalion was attached to the 28th Division for administrative purposes during its stay there. The program was vigorous, hazardous and exciting, and several fell by the wayside due to the rapid pace and constant exertion under the hot, tropical Florida sun.

The program consisted of combat swinging, speed marches, unorthodox exercises (and we do mean unorthodox), street fighting, Judo, hand-to-hand fighting, use of knife and bayonet, cargo net practice on mock-ups, loading and unloading in small craft, demolitions, and the use of explosives. The battalion also had its first taste of the infiltration course at this time. The attack on Schicklgruber village with live ammunition furnished plenty of excitement and firsthand experience in street fighting and battle sounds.

Trips to Tallahassee, beach parties, and other extra-curricular activities took the curse off this particular period, but no one was sorry when orders came to leave the place that Winchell had dubbed "The Alcatraz of the Army." Every man that came through that training will admit, however, that he was in better physical shape for it. The battalion departed from this station on June 9-10, 1943.

Camp Pickett, Virginia

On June 12, 1943, the 81st Chemical Battalion arrived at Camp Pickett, Virginia, where it was stationed until October 14 of that year. During that time, the battalion was trained in the use of the Springfield rifle, the carbine, and the BAR, firing for record in all these weapons, and the old Enfields were finally turned in. It was at Camp Pickett that the battalion fired its first rounds of HE and everyone was more than pleased with the wallop it packed. A good deal of time was spent in mortar drill, bringing the squads, platoons, and companies to a high degree of efficiency.

Many of the personnel found accommodations in nearby towns and brought their wives there to be near them. Practically every officer and man was given a leave or furlough during the five months that the battalion was stationed there.

During the months of August and September, the battalion participated in several amphibious maneuvers with the 28th Division at Camp Bradford, Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia, and B Company spent two weeks on mountain maneuvers in West Virginia. In the course of training at the amphibious base the battalion received instruction and training in the use and adjustment of life belts, and in the purposes and characteristics of various types of landing crafts. Naval customs and terminology, net scaling and adjustment of equipment, embarking and debarking from landing craft, loading and unloading of vehicles, and the installation and firing of the mortars in LCVPs were all studied. Later on, the battalion, attached to the 28th Division, engaged in the practice assault on the "Solomon Islands" in Chesapeake Bay. For many members of the battalion this was the first experience with sea travel, and as a result, a few cases of mal-de-mer were experienced. For its ship-to-shore operation the battalion did an excellent job. This was also the battalion's first experience with C and K rations, and actually we thought they were good.

Company B, attached to the 109th Infantry of the 28th Division, spent a vigorous two weeks in the vicinity of Elkins, West Virginia, participating in mountain maneuvers. The long hard pulls, and hand-carrying the mortars up those steep mountains, taxed the energy of everybody, but a different method of moving equipment was learned.

On August 13, 1943, D Company was detached from the battalion for overseas duty. The first contingent of the outfit was on its way. Many envied them, others were damned glad it wasn't their company, but all wished them Godspeed. Eight months were to go by before they rejoined the battalion.

The battalion (less Company D) was alerted for overseas shipment on September 30, 1943, and at once plunged into the feverish activity of its P.O.M. (Preparation for Overseas Movement). All leaves and furloughs were cancelled, and censorship and security regulations were explained to the men.

On October 14, 1943, after Col. James' memorable "This Is It" speech, the battalion departed from Camp Pickett, Virginia, for the P.O.E. staging area at Camp Shanks, New York.

III. Staging and Overseas Movement

Camp Shanks

The battalion arrived at Camp Shanks on Friday, October 15, 1943. Here the unit was processed, every item of equipment checked for serviceability, and all excess personal belongings discarded.

Every officer and man was given a thorough last-minute physical inspection (which consisted of counting the number of arms, legs and eyes a person possessed). All organizational equipment had been turned in at Pickett and new equipment was to be reissued on the other side. From this it was deduced it was not to be a "shore to shore" operation. Since the unit was alerted shortly after arrival at Shanks, it was restricted to the immediate area for the duration of its stay there. Just 45 minutes from Broadway, and not a thing could be done about it! One man could see his home from Camp Shanks. That really hurt. All the unit censors were kept busy deleting and cutting up letters, but finally the word came.

On October 20, 1943, the battalion embarked on the Capetown Castle, a British ship formerly used on the South African run. The lights of New York, crossing the river on the ferry, the Red Cross doughnut girls, and the band at the docks, played on personal sentiments. Everyone was quiet and tense until the band started playing "Dixie" and then every Rebel throat in the battalion, plus a few renegade Yankees, took up the tune while marching up the gangplank, loaded down with what seemed to be a ton of equipment.

Sea Voyage

The following day, October 21, 1943, after everyone had been assigned quarters, the Capetown Castle steamed out of New York harbor. Many of the men missed their last chance to look at the "Old Lady with the Torch" because the decks were cleared, but those who did wondered when they would see her again.

The ship wasn't long at sea before boat drills were started. It was difficult to get used to wearing life belts at all times. Crap games started everywhere. Musical instruments soon appeared and close harmony on the deck at night was customary. It was good to see the old battlewagon, the Texas, and off on the horizon various cruisers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts. The nearest ships to the Capetown Castle in the convoy were the Empress of Australia and Monarch of Bermuda. One of these was loaded with American nurses. So near and yet so far! The latrine situation was quite a problem, and a helmet was used for a purpose other than the one for which it was intended.

Catalina flying boats and naval blimps escorted us for several days until we got well out to sea. The route followed was the southern one, long and circuitous, but safe. The constant zigzagging of the course of the ship was difficult to become accustomed to at first, and a few cases of seasickness resulted. Despite all orders prohibiting the same, rumors flew fast and furious. It was later learned, after the voyage was over, that the U.S.S. Murphy, one of the ships in the convoy, had collided with another ship, resulting in the Murphy being cut in half. The bow section was lost, but the stern section made it back to New York. The danger of submarine attack was ever present, but it did not hinder one bit the harmony sessions, crap games, pseudo-rumors, and high morale.

The trip was a long one, taking in all 11 days. Company D, which had left in August, was fortunate to be sent over in the Queen Elizabeth which traveled alone, without escort of any kind, due to her speed; she made the trip in five days.

On November 2, 1943, the Capetown Castle docked at Liverpool, England, amidst the music of an English regimental band and the cheering and waving of a mixed crowd, including ATS girls, soldiers, and the inevitable American MPs. Everyone lined the rails and started throwing cigarettes, chocolate, money, and sundry articles to the ATS girls, but in many cases, the aim was poor and it afforded a great bit of amusement to see the mad scramble for it. Over the public address system the new arrivals were told how to behave in England and a little bit of what to expect there. One particular incident stands out: a Scottish officer wearing kilts walked down the dock, and the clamor of the catcalls, whistling, and yoo-hoos was deafening. The battalion disembarked on November 3 and entrained on the curious little English railroad cars that were to carry us to Penkridge, Staffordshire, arriving that afternoon. Part of the battalion had an opportunity to see the havoc of the blitz in Liverpool.

The battalion was finally overseas!

IV. England and the Assault Training Center

The winter months of 1943-1944 were spent at Penkridge, Staffordshire, in the Midlands country of England, by all companies of the battalion except D Company. During this time, the unit was re-equipped with all its organizational equipment and was kept in shape by a varied program of exercises and many hikes to nearby Channock Chase. Penkridge was a sleepy English village and at first the natives didn't know quite what to make of the "Yanks," but when the civilians found out that Americans weren't all gangsters and that they might sleep safely in their beds at night, they became quite friendly and hospitable. The cultural points of interest were Penkridge Church, Litchfield Cathedral, and Hatherton Hall. For those interested in culture of a lighter vein, Civic Hall at Wolverhampton, the pubs at Stafford, Cannock, and other neighboring towns, served to keep all amused. "You cawn't miss it," "Any gum, chum," "Time please, gentlemen," became familiar phrases, and despite the protests that it was awful stuff, copious quantities of "Mild and Bitter" were consumed.

All during this period, D Company was at the famous ATC (Assault Training Center) near Ilfracombe, North Devon, acting as school troops. It was not relieved from this duty until April 1, 1944, at which time it rejoined the battalion.

From December 1943, through April 1944, each company of the battalion, including parts of headquarters, participated in intensive amphibious and assault exercises at the ATC and along the western and southern coasts of England. Few who participated will forget the regimental landings, firing from LCVPs, the company assault problems, the "hedgehog" at the Assault Training Center, or the exercises Duck 1 and 2, and exercises Fox and Fabius. It was learned later that enemy "E" boats were operating in that vicinity at the time. All these problems were considered rough, but it was found later that they were child's play compared to actual combat.

The battalion was reorganized under a new Table of Organization on February 14, 1944, and the 376 men rendered surplus by this reorganization were transferred in grade to the 92nd Chemical Battalion then being formed. The members of the unit were sorry to see so many of their friends leave, and the men concerned hated to go, but it was a necessary action.

In March the battalion left Penkridge for Poole, Dorset, where it was rejoined on April 1, 1944, by D Company. All companies participated in the AA firing at Newquay with the .50 cal. machine gun, and in intensive mortar shoots at Exmoor range in North Devon and at Canford Heath near Poole. However, despite the intensive training program carried out by the battalion during this period, all personnel had sufficient time for recreation. Most of them managed to get to London and many other places of interest on short passes. The foggy weather gave birth to the famous story that England was kept afloat by barrage balloons, but the blackouts seemed to enhance sociability rather than kill it. Many English friends were made, and two men asked for and received permission to marry English girls.

On February 15 the battalion was attached to V Corps of the First United States Army. The battalion was further attached to the 1st Infantry Division on April 20, 1944. It was about this time that the field artillery method of observation and firing was adopted. Its advantages over the old mortar methods were soon proven in combat.

V. Marshaling and Embarkation

After a little more than six months of intensive preparation following its arrival in the United Kingdom, the battalion was alerted on May 12, 1944, for what proved to be the greatest event in modern times the invasion of Europe.

Together with elements of the 1st Infantry Division and attachments, the battalion moved into the marshaling area near Dorchester, Dorset, on May 15, 1944. The assault group of this battalion was composed of 437 officers and men and 35 vehicles. Once in the marshaling area, it was held incommunicado from the outside world. The residual elements were moved to Bournemouth, Hants at this time, to join other residual elements of the 1st Division. Later the lead echelon was moved to Falmouth for embarkation and the initial build-up (overstrength) was moved to Tiverton for shipment so as to arrive in France and join the forward echelon on D plus 5.

The entire assault echelon was moved to Camp D-11, where it remained as a battalion until Sunday, May 28.

During this time, everyone, from the battalion commander to the private of the line, was briefed on the operation. Complete and comprehensive relief maps, recent aerial photographs, and the latest intelligence reports were used, so that every detail of terrain, location of enemy installations and underwater obstacles, etc., was learned with painstaking accuracy. Col. James gave what later proved to be his last talk to us, expressing complete confidence in our ability to live up to the words "Equal to the Task."

On this date, the assault echelon was broken up and attached to two combat teams the 16th and 116th. Companies A and C were attached to the 16th CT, made up of the 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division and attached units; B and D Companies to the 116th CT, made up of the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division plus attachments; and battalion headquarters to the 1st Division Headquarters. Company A then moved to Camp D4 and D8, B to D1, C to D10, D to D1, and battalion headquarters to D5.

Beginning on June 1 and continuing through June 2, the entire assault echelon was moved to Weymouth harbor where it embarked on various craft, including APAs, an LSI, and LSTs. Company A was assigned to the SS Henrico, an APA; B Company to a British APA, the Empire Javelin; C Company to the Empire Anvil, a British LSI; D Company to the USS Charles Carrol; and Headquarters Company to the LST 83. The rear echelons of the various companies embarked at a later date in two Liberty ships, the Lucille Stone and Louis Kossuth. After leaving the marshaling areas, the battalion commander had no further contact with any of his companies until the lading on bloody Omaha Beach on D-Day. In all, the assault groups spent 96 hours on the choppy waters of the Channel.

After the assault groups had embarked, it was announced that D-Day would be June 5, but later an announcement was flashed that D-Day had been postponed 24 hours due to bad weather off the coast of Normandy. H-Hour was to be at 0630 hours, June 6, 1944. It was later learned that it had to be then or be postponed at least a month. What a decision to rest on the shoulders of one man! Yet a more capable man than our Supreme Commander, General "Ike", would be difficult to find.

On the afternoon of June 5, one by one the craft slipped out from Weymouth harbor to assemble with similar groups somewhere in the Channel. The immensity of this mighty invasion fleet was awe-inspiring to everyone who participated in General Badley's "greatest show on earth." Here was the armed might of the "decadent democracies" spread out as far as the eye could see. The dry runs were over; this was the record shoot, testing whether a free people could hope to meet and vanquish the regimented power of a brutal dictatorship. It was truly to be a "battle of the giants."

VI. Invasion and the Beachhead

Just before dawn on June 6, as the armada approached the coast of Normandy, bright, lightning-like flashes could be seen illuminating the whole horizon. The arrival of the mightiest convoy that man had ever assembled for a single operation was heralded by a thunderous rumble directly to the front. This was the initial air and sea bombardment laid down on Omaha Beach early that day in an effort to neutralize or soften up the enemy's prepared positions. Despite the immensity of this preparation and the gigantic losses inflicted on the enemy, the fighting forces were to learn soon enough that they would yet have to pay heavily to gain that little strip of France.

Approximately 15 miles from shore the larger craft hove to, and at 0430 all companies transferred their men and mortars to LCVPs. As the men clambered down the cargo nets in the murky, false dawn, the Navy wished them Godspeed, and the craft shoved off from the mother ships into a choppy sea for the rendezvous areas several hundred yards offshore. Here they circled, endlessly it seemed, causing the boat teams to be wet to the skin and, in many cases, violently seasick. All during this time the promised air support passed overhead, wave after wave, and faces lifted to see it were filled with gratitude.

Battleships and cruisers fired salvos into the Nazi defenses, destroyers steamed offshore battling 88s emplaced solidly in the bluff, while smaller vessels sprayed the beach defenses with rockets.

Finally, the craft straightened out into waves and headed for Omaha Beach with all the speed and power they could muster. All the companies were in either the fourth or fifth wave of the assault echelon. Soon empty LCVPs passed, returning to the APA. Seeing the empty craft relieved the strain a bit, for then it was known that the first wave had managed at least to disembark. The din of the battle came closer and closer, and to the sides and rear could be seen spouts of water where enemy shells were landing. Looking through the slit in the ramp one could see the smoke, wreckage, and carnage of the beach rapidly coming closer. The staccato rattling was soon recognized as machine gun bullets impacting as the craft threaded their way through the various lanes cleared by the shore engineers, but which were often lined with underwater obstacles and mines. Finally, with a last surge of power and a lurch that sent the unprepared hitting against the bulwarks, the craft grounded, and the ramps flew down spilling men, guns, and equipment on to the hell that was the shore of France. Many say now that it was a good thing most were "green" troops, for many a veteran "froze" that day. The constant drilling at the ATC resulted in doing automatically what was supposed to be done, without stopping to think of what was being faced. Heavy seas and the fact that some craft hung up on underwater obstacles made it impossible to make a dry landing.

The companies landed in the following order:

Companies A & D: H plus 50 minutes
Company B: H plus 90 minutes
Company C: H plus 9 hours

The LCT of the forward battalion command group was heavily shelled as it approached the shore. Enemy artillery pierced the starboard side of the craft amidship, killing T/Sgt. Cook of Headquarters Detachment and seriously wounding Col. James. The engine room was flooded and the rudder hit, leaving the craft with its dead and wounded adrift and floating out to sea. Aided by the current, the boat drifted toward shore and finally at about 1030 hours, beached itself under the protection of a steep cliff, where, under covering fire from the craft, the wounded were transferred to shore. Col. James was evacuated to England later that day in a hospital ship. Major Johnson (then Captain), being the senior officer ashore, took command of the assault echelon until the rear echelon arrived.

Company A, in support of the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Division, landed at Easy Red Beach. Several mortars and carts were carried away by the heavy seas. After a hard struggle, the equipment was rescued and the company remained on the beach the entire morning, subjected to devastating machine gun fire which made it impossible to move. The company commander, Captain Moundres, was severely wounded while making his way through the surf to the beach. First Lt James P. Panas, who had already rescued a wounded doughboy from the water, ran back across the beach and, under heavy enemy machine gun, artillery and mortar fire, carried his wounded company commander ashore. Captain Moundres died as a result of his wounds, so Lt Panas, being now the senior officer, took command of the company, reorganized the platoons, and got them safely off the beach into firing positions along the slope of the bluff. For his leadership and gallantry in action, Lt Panas was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The only enlisted man lost by A Company on the beach was Pvt George Baumgartner who was killed when an enemy artillery shell exploded near him. Pvt Kidwell distinguished himself by retrieving several men being carried away by the rising water, giving them first aid in complete disregard for his personal safety, and in spite of a wound he himself had suffered. Kidwell was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his gallantry and self-sacrifice.

After the infantry had broken through the beach defenses, the platoons took up positions by a tank trap in a field about 500 yards in from the beach. The enemy had direct observation on these positions and subjected the company to a severe shelling.

B Company's mission was to land on Dog Green Beach and provide direct support for the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry. Because the water obstacles had not been cleared and the beach was under heavy mortar, small arms, and artillery fire, the control boat ordered the wave to land instead on Easy Green, the left flank of Omaha Beach. As the boats were running along parallel to the beach, about 1,000 yards offshore, two of the LCVPs were hit and disabled by artillery. Despite an extremely heavy sea and the continual harassing fire from enemy machine guns and other direct-fire weapons, all personnel and equipment were safely transferred to an empty LCT. At approximately 0930 hours the entire wave was safely beached. Here the company was reorganized and moved inland about 100 yards.

At this time only a small section of the beach was held by American troops, and enemy fire was still inflicting heavy casualties. It was not until late in the afternoon that part of the company was able to move to a bluff overlooking the beach and fire its first mission. The first round was fired by Sgt Florio's squad at 1700 hours at a machine gun nest in the woods near St. Laurent-sur-Mer. Later in the evening it was found that nine men and two officers were missing; otherwise the company was intact. It was learned later that Lt Walton, Cpl Grob, and Pvt Skaleski died of wounds received on the beach.

In order to accomplish its mission, the company was forced to advance through one of the uncleared mine fields found everywhere about the beach. During this move, PFC Rone was injured by an anti-personnel mine and later died.

The wave containing C Company's LCVPs bore in towards the beach on schedule, but since the infantry was still pinned down within a few yards of water, the control boat moved them back to sea where they rendezvoused. Another attempt was made at 1000 hours, and still another at 1200 hours, the latter being met by machine gun fire as it reached the beach. As a last measure the wave moved down the beach to the mortar fire. The platoons, separately attached to battalions of the 16th Infantry, 1st Division, moved along the beach to their sector and initially set up 200 yards inland. Mines and sniper fire were ever-present dangers and again the medics distinguished themselves when Sgt Linnea Freda worked for hours treating and evacuating wounded with complete disregard for his own safety. He was later awarded the Silver Star.

At 0720, D Company's craft beached on Easy Green in support of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry, under an incessant hail of machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire. Of necessity the boat teams were landed in water up to their waists, and the precaution that had been taken to attach inflated life belts to the carts proved a wise one. Machine gun bullets ripped into the belts on several of the carts, however, deflating them and causing the carts to sink. Sgt Raymond Nicoli, T/R Felice Savino, Pvt McLaren, and Pvt Benton L. Porter were wounded while rescuing this equipment and refused medical aid until this was accomplished. These men were justly awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their bravery. The preceding wave of infantry was lying only a few yards from the water, pinned down by the fire raking the beach. Lt Mohrfeld, platoon leader, 2nd platoon, was hit within a few minutes by machine gun fire and died shortly thereafter. Lt Costello assumed command of the platoon and, knowing that too much longer on the beach was certain death, reorganized the squads and infiltrated them off the beach amidst the heavy fire impacting there. Lt Costello later received the Silver Star for his gallantry. Captain Gaffney, company commander, was instantly killed when the craft in which he was riding struck a mine. Lt Marshall, platoon leader, 1st platoon, took over command. The bravery of the medics in taking care of the wounded under fire was again proven by T/5s White and Marrin.

Number four mortar of the 1st platoon, Sgt Miller's squad, fired two rounds of HE, from the initial landing place, at a machine gun emplacement 500 yards away. Lt Sabbione directed the fire from the mortar position. Although the target was at too close a range to hit, it is believed that these were the first rounds the battalion fired on the continent of Europe.

C Company changed positions three times after the initial landing on Easy Green. One of these movements involved a hand-carry of all equipment across a waist-deep, muddy marsh under fire. At 2200 hours the company moved northwest along a sea wall 800 yards inland through les Moulins to St. Laurent-sur-Mer, arriving at 2400 hours. Here the company dug in for the night and concealed its equipment.

All the assault vehicles of A Company were landed safely later that day, and those of C and D Companies were also landed with the loss of only one jeep apiece. B Company was unfortunate enough to have one of the vehicle personnel killed and two others and an officer wounded. Only one B Company jeep was landed, although another was later salvaged; all other vehicles were lost.