The company moved out almost in mob formation and Craft and I had not even found our squad, but were on the right flank of the company. As we started down the hill we saw about six Germans running for their holes and a second later one of their machine guns opened up full blast. We all hit the dirt, on the forward slope of a grassy hill, not even a good clod of dirt to get behind. I fell into a small furrow (with water running down it) and looked for something to shoot at. It was barely light, foggy and we were looking into the sun. How the Germans didn't hit us all is still a mystery to me.... we were sitting ducks.
Finally someone found his head and started moving the men over to our left flank into some woods and buildings. The firing quieted down and I soon found, from what little I could see, that I was about the only one still in the field. I finally started to run across the field, to my left, but my legs were too weak from the wet night in the hole and I fell flat. There was only one thing left to do, run down the hill into a larger ditch where there was plenty of concealment from small trees and bushes. I made that and lay, half in and half out of the water, with another fellow, Harader, who had been in front of me.
The machine gun swept the ditch occasionally but it was not until mortar rounds started landing close that we really got worried. Several times the explosions threw mud all over us and shrapnel came close -- but not close enough. Finally, I saw the last of our men moving down the road on my left, going into town. I didn't want to be left behind so between mortar barrages, made my way down the ditch. Harader remained in the ditch. I finally got to the road and who should be the first man I meet -- Craft! We went into the basement of the first house we came to and I began to hear the story of what had happened on the hill.
Carnes had been nicked in the back of the head by a bullet. A sniper had shot off half of Allen's mustache. Fererra's shovel handle had been shot off and his leg grazed. Our medic, Lacy, had been killed instantly by a shell burst, another man had lost one leg, Drake had been shot in the groin, Davis in the arm, Gardner in the chest, Evans, our platoon sergeant, had been hit. All told, our platoon had been cut to 13 men but Craft, Crabtree, Black, Compton, Boles, DeFoe, and I were still okay. A sniper concealed in a cemetery on our left rear had accounted for many of the casualties but Sgt. Blank spotted him and put him out of the way.
I found out, too, that the boys had thought I was dead. After they all got back to the house at the left of the slope and they found I was missing, Black, Crabtree and Craft went back out on the hill to find me, but were driven off by the mortar barrage. Aside from the ones I knew, several other men had been killed or were badly wounded. And as we sat in the basement and collected our wits, Catanzano, another member of the company, lay on the floor shot through the head by a sniper. He had gone into the house from the rear, walked to the front door and opened it. The German was not more than thirty yards away and aiming at the door. All he had to do was squeeze the trigger. I think Catanzano was the first dead American I had seen -- lying in a great pool of blood, the back of his head blown out.
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