Early life and joining the army

Basic training and service overseas

Omaha Beach

Fighting in the hedgerows

Saint Lo

His first Silver Star

Actions deserving the Silver Star

Carpet bombing for Operation Cobra

Mortain

Hill 314

Blocked Event

Winning the battle for Hill 314

Untitled Event

Fighting across France

Liberation of Paris

French civilians and combat awards

Education and Training

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[Annotators Note: Interview begins with the interviewer discussing with Franklin Denius how he should answer questions throughout the interview.]Franklin W. Denius was born on 4 January 1925 and grew up in Athens, Texas. 1 of the primary interests throughout his life is football. Denius was raised by his mother and grandparents. His grandfather had a general store in Athens which is about 75 miles east of Dallas.His grandfather was a good mentor and loved athletics. He took Denius to various sporting events. Denius played football in junior high and high school and even played 1 college game.When Denius was 12 years old his family decided that with the possibility of the United States entering World War 2 he needed the discipline of attending a military school. At the age of 13 Denius was enrolled in the Schreiner Institute in Kerrville, Texas. He graduated from the Schreiner Institute in just 3 and a half years and took 1 year of college there as well.Denius graduated high school on 25 May 1942. He was 17 years old at the time so he volunteered for the Army so he could get a couple semesters of college through a program offered by both the army and navy which would allow those who volunteered before they turned 18 to take 2 semesters of college.Denius was sent to the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He began there in late July of 1942 and his second semester ended there in early April 1943 when he was 18 years old. Prior to being called to active duty he was able to go the University of Texas for a short course in May 1943 and took sophomore English.Denius got his orders to report for active duty so he went back to Athens. All of the draftees and reserves who had not yet been called all met on the steps of the courthouse in Athens, Texas for the ride to Mineral Wells [Annotators Note: to Camp Wolters]. On the way the bus Denius was on broke down.They finally got to Camp Wolters where they were processed and officially became members of the military.

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Franklin Denius had taken artillery training in the ROTC at the Citadel and wanted to be in the artillery. He got his wish and was shipped by train to Camp Roberts, California for 17 or 18 weeks of basic training in artillery. He was selected for instrument survey sector of the artillery. This was to prepare him to be a forward observer.He was there until 2 or 3 January 1944 then got a furlough and went home by train to Athens, Texas. About 9 days later he took a train to Houston then on to Fort Meade, Maryland. This was mid January 1944. They trained at Fort Meade then shipped out to Camp Miles Standish which is south of Boston. Camp Miles Standish was the port of embarkation and staging area for troops going overseas. Denius was there for about a week before shipping out of Boston aboard the USS Wakefield.There were about 11000 troops aboard the ship. The trip took about 10 or 11 days then they finally landed in Liverpool, England in late January or 1 February 1944.When they got to England about 30 of them including Denius were selected to go through Ranger training. After Ranger training in late April of 1944 Denius joined the 30th Infantry Division as a forward observer and was assigned to Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division.[Annotators Note: the interview is briefly interrupted briefly while Denius puts his glasses on a side table.]During the Ranger training in England Denius took infantry training and learned to jump from C-47s. The training was intensive but very beneficial and came in handy during the next year.The Ranger training had lasted about 30 days. Then they did artillery training with the 30th Infantry Division. During that time they got to know the men in their division and prepared for the invasion of Normandy.The only time off they had was for maybe an hour at PX time. Other than that they were on marches and training almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They did not get to observe actual artillery fire but Denius had previously done so during basic training back at Camp Roberts [Annotators Note: Camp Roberts, California]. The artillery fire was all simulated.They were introduced maps of the terrain but did not understand the hedgerows as much as they later learned to understand them.The 30th Infantry Division was a very disciplined unit. Every unit within the division had an esprit de corps that was contagious to its members.The 30th Infantry Division was in corps reserve for the D Day invasion. The 115trh Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division suffered a lot of casualties and lost their artillery during the landings on Omaha Beach. Denius battalion was rushed to ships in the Channel on 6 June and he went ashore at Omaha Beach from an LCI in the early morning hours of 7 June. For the first 6 days the 230th Field Artillery Battalion fought with and supported the 29th Infantry Division. Around D plus 7 or D plus 8 when the 30th Infantry Division was fully landed the 230th Field Artillery Battalion returned to the division. From that point on they supported the 30th Infantry Division except on special occasions when they were sent to support other units during the race across France and through Holland, Belgium, and into Germany.

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[Annotators Note: this segment begins with the interviewer asking Franklin Denius to give a statement in a certain way.]Denius describes the sector of Omaha Beach he landed on with his radio sergeant and other members of the 30th Infantry Division attached to the 230th Field Artillery Battalion. When he went ashore they saw medic tending to wounded everywhere and sunken ships. The sound of artillery fire and bombers flying overhead added to the incredibly loud noise.Denius landed from an LCI [Annotators Note: Landing Craft, Infantry]. His objective was to get off the beach and up the cliff. They immediately went into positions where they could support the 29th Infantry Division. They had landed before their guns came in. It took a lot of logistics in order to get the guns ashore and into position. Things were hectic but credit needs to be given to the discipline of the soldiers getting things organized all the while under artillery and machine gun fire.In a forward observer party there was usually an officer, a sergeant, even though Denius was not that rank at the time, and a radio operator. They and other forward observers were ordered to report to their respective units of the 29th Infantry Division that they would be supporting. This was not an easy thing as they had to first find the unit then find that units commanding officer then decide out how best to set up their artillery team in order to best support that unit with artillery fire once the artillery landed.It was several hours before the artillery came ashore. in the mean time they quickly got acquainted with the terrain, location, and commanding officers of the units they were supporting. No matter which unit they were with or supporting the infantry was always very supportive of the artillery observers throughout the war. They became loyal friends with the infantry in every unit they supported.

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[Annotators Note: segment begins with the interviewer asking Franklin Denius to describe his first moments in Normandy]When they landed in Normandy it was the first time Denius, his radio sergeant, and his officer were ever in combat. Even so they learned very quickly how to survive.In many ways the bombardment of the areas inland from Omaha Beach by the battleships offshore created some craters for them to take cover in even though they did not stay in them for long. They moved out quickly and reached the hedgerow country. From the early part of June [Annotators Note: June 1944] after the invasion until the breakthrough at Saint Lo which began on 24 July they were fighting in the hedgerows. The first town the 30th Infantry Divisions 120th Regiment captured with the support of the 230th Field Artillery Battalion was Saint Jean de Daye. They had made a 6 or 7 mile night march behind the lines in order to get into position to jump off in the attack. As an artillery observer Denius had to know the terrain and be able to get into position. He also needed to know how to orient himself so he could direct artillery fire. Denius could not have done this job without the officer and his radio sergeant Sid Goldstein of Ohio who he remains friends with to this day.In June and July of 1944 they encountered hedgerow fighting. The best way to describe the hedgerows is that they were like a farm with a barbed wire fence surrounding it only in Normandy the farm was surrounded by hedgerows. The hedgerows were mountains of dirt and trees that were 75 to 100 yards apart. They would be in 1 hedgerow and the Germans might be in the next hedgerow. The Germans set machine guns up and were in a perfectly defensible position. Another weapon the Germans used effectively in the hedgerows was the mortar. Later on the Germans started digging tanks in. There were trails that ran between the hedgerows that the Germans used to bring their tanks in.Denius quickly figured out the German defensive strategy and how best to call in artillery fire. They were attacking or advancing almost every day. They fired the artillery out in front of the advancing infantry to force the Germans to withdraw.In addition to firing to support advances they also fired behind the enemy lines in an effort to hit German artillery or reserves. It did not take them long to learn in combat. Their primary duty as artillery observers was to protect the infantry and that is what they did their best to do.At night when they were not attacking they would fine artillery into locations where they expected the Germans to use to move or launch a counter attack.They would fire 2 types of barrages. They could fire a normal barrage or an emergency barrage. The target locations were already mapped out for the emergency barrages so they would not need to adjust the fire.

Annotation

[Annotators Note: This segment begins with the interviewer asking Franklin Denius to talk about the build up to the breakout from Saint Lo.]After the capture of Saint Jean de Daye in Normandy they started fighting in the hedgerows. If they could take 3 hedgerows a day they considered it a successful day. The defenses were intense. The German soldiers were veterans and some of them were SS troops. They did not always accomplish their missions for the day but they were constantly advancing. It was intense fighting and they suffered a lot of casualties.From Omaha Beach to Saint Jean de Daye the terrain was difficult. They would cross 1 hedgerow right into the German fire coming from the next 1. That is why the artillery and infantry mortars were so important. They were used to break up the German defenses and even killed and wounded some of the German defenders.Once they got 20 to 30 miles inside Normandy there were rivers and towns everywhere and every river was a defensive position that they had to fight their way across. At this point the advance was made mostly by infantry and artillery observers against German tanks, machine guns and all types of defensive weapons.Denius went over 2 months without a bath or being able to maintain the most basic hygiene. At night the quartermaster group would try to get rations up to them. They ate mostly k rations that they could carry on them. Denius carried his rations in his gas mask bag. They were each issued a d ration which was a very hard chocolate candy bar. They could not chew it so Denius would use his bayonet to shave pieces off of it to eat.The day to day fighting in the hedgerows was costing a lot of casualties.While they were fighting in the American sector the Canadians and British were fighting similar battles in their areas to the east of where the 30th Infantry Division was.Denius believes that films depicting village fighting during World War 2 are pretty accurate. When Denius entered these small towns he would climb the steeples of the local churches to get a better view of the terrain so they could call in fire. At the same time the Germans knew that they were doing that and would fire their 88s [Annotators Note: 88 millimeter antiaircraft and antitank artillery piece] at the steeples.Rivers were natural defense barriers. During river crossings the initial crossing had to be made by infantry. The tanks and artillery would cross later.In mid July [Annotators Note: mid July of 1944] they had fought their way to the area of Saint Lo. There they were told that there would be a massive bombing attack.The 230th [Annotators Note: the 230th Field Artillery Battalion was the artillery unit Denius served in] supported the 120th Infantry Regiment. There were 3 regiments in a division and in the 30th Infantry Division there were the 117th Regiment, 119th Regiment, and the 120th Regiment. The unit Denius served in supported all 3 regiments but usually supported the 120th Regiment.On 17 July they began to build up and straighten the American lines. The 30th Infantry Division was a leading element. They got into position to launch the attack that would become known as the Saint Lo Breakout.On 24 July they were visited by General Leslie McNair who was a 3 star general. The general had come forward to observe the preparation for the attack which was to be spearheaded by the 119th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division. On the early morning of 24 July the troops pulled back from their front line positions about a half to 3 quarters of a mile to give them a little more cushion from the bombers to bomb. When the attack came the next day some of the bombs fell short. General McNair was killed and the 119th Regiment suffered 800 to 900 casualties as a result of those bombs falling short. Denius was in a foxhole about 50 or 75 yards away from where General McNair was when he was hit. The units regrouped and the 120th Regiment pushed through on the night of 24 July. The following day the bombers returned. There were over 3000 bombers and they dropped their bombs within about 3 miles of them. The 29th Division was to the west of Denius and the 30th Division and they all jumped off after the bombing.When the bombing was over they [Annotators Note: the ground forces] jumped off in the attack. They also directed artillery to support the 120th. They were able to break through the front lines at Saint Lo. The town of Saint Lo was completely destroyed by bombing and artillery. The break though gave General Pattons Third Army the opportunity to make their end run around the German lines south and drive their tanks deeper into France. Pattons tank units were quickly able to penetrate 15 to 20 miles.

Annotation

[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division.]After the break through they held their positions to protect Pattons flanks. They were on the east side of the break through and the 29th Division was on the west side. The 1st Division was even further west.About a week before the Saint Lo break through they were engaged in a battle that would enable them to get into position for the Saint Lo break through. Denius was with the 2nd Battalion of the 120th Regiment. The officer leading the party, the radio sergeant, and Denius were unable to see where the crossfire and some German artillery were located in front of them. Geographically they were located about 2 thirds of the way between Saint Jean de Daye and Saint Lo. The only way they could tell exactly where the German machine gun and dug in tank fire was coming from was for the 3 of them to crawl out in advance of the infantry unit to see better. As they were crawling out to that area a German machine gun opened fire killing the officer Denius was with. The officer was about 2 feet in front of Denius when this happened.Denius decided that since he was already there he would call in and adjust artillery fire. They did not have their guns pre set here so Denius had to call in several rounds and direct it so he could zero it in on where he believed the German machine guns and tanks to be. To do so he had to expose himself. He did so and was successful in knocking out the enemy positions in that area. After that Denius and his radio sergeant returned to the lines and the infantry moved out. About 2 weeks later Denius got orders to report to corps headquarters where he was awarded the Silver Star [Annotators Note: for his service during the war Denius would earn a total of 4 Silver Star Medals] and promoted from corporal to buck sergeant. It was an honor but Denius believes that he could not have accomplished what he did as a forward observer without his radio sergeant Goldstein [Annotators Note: US Army Sergeant Sid Goldstein]. In September of 2005 Denius and Goldstein met for dinner. They had spoken on the phone over the years but it was the first time they had seen each other since May of 1945.On 24 and 25 July [Annotators Note: 24 and 25 July 1944] there was a massive carpet bombing. The infantry and artillery observers had seen a lot of gunfire and explosions but they could not envision having thousands of bombs exploding in front of them. Seeing those explosions desensitized the American soldiers but they had no idea of how the bombing would aid or impede their advance because of the craters. The sound of the blasts was deafening. They were immediately able to get their troops together and start the attack right after the bombing. Denius called in artillery fire on the areas he thought the bombs may not have been successful.As an observer Denius never elected not to fire artillery in front of advancing units. He felt that it was their job as artillery to protect the infantry. They laid down artillery barrages in front of the infantry constantly. They protected the infantry and they protected the success of their attack.Denius jokingly states that he crawled during the break out from Saint Lo. As the advance moved out of Saint Lo through the area that had been bombed Denius saw that everything was demolished. It was full of bomb holes and everything above ground was killed or destroyed. The whole area looked like a no mans land completely devoid of life of any kind.They were on guard when they reached the German side. The Germans had pulled back in shock and there was some surrendering but as a combat team Denius and his unit did not manage the prisoners. They sent any prisoners to the rear.They continued their attack. Their objective was to get into position to defend Pattons break through then supply route which followed the advancing armor.

Annotation

[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division]After the break through at Saint Lo on the 25th [Annotators Note: 25 July 1944] they spent the next 5 days in defensive positions protecting Pattons lifeline. The 30th Division was pulled off the front line and treated the division to a USO show. 2 of the performers were Dinah Shore and an actor. Denius got a kiss on the cheek from Dinah Shore. His friends teased him. For the first time in over 2 months Denius had been able to brush his teeth, get a shower, and put on some clean socks. When his friends asked him if he liked getting the kiss from Dinah Shore better than the shower he said that it was a tie.After they got replacements and supplies and refitted the artillery they moved west to their next objective which was the town of Mortain where they arrived on 6 August. The position they moved into had been held by the 1st Infantry Division. Around noon on the day they went into their positions Denius marched up a hill with his radio sergeant and the officer from his observer party along with a company commander from the 2nd Battalion, 120th Regiment. The hill was just n the east side of Mortain and the 1st Division guys who had been in fox holes there told them that they had not seen a German or fired a shot in the last 5 or 6 days so it should be peaceful.About 690 men marched up Hill 314 which was so called because it was 314 meters above sea level.Mortain was a resort town. Denius and the soldiers with him did not go into the town itself. They dug in their positions on the hill. The lieutenant with Denius was on his first combat role. He had joined the battery as a replacement for the officer who was killed back in early July and had not been in combat before. Denius and the lieutenant went with the infantry commander to scout the areas they believed they may face counter attacks from.Hill 314 is the highest point in Western France. There were no buildings on the hill except for the remains of a petite chapel which were on the south side of the hill.The group Denius was with reconnoitered the area. There was also another forward observer party on the hill with them in addition to most of 3 infantry companies and others attached units of the 30th Division that were with them.The location they were in was an artillery observers dream. They could see 360 degrees around. With visibility like that there was no way that an artillery observer could not see the enemy approaching or attacking.The likely directions of attack were limited so they scouted them with the infantry lieutenant.The hill was covered with trees and the potential avenues of attack were limited. 1 of the likely attack routes was a road that came up from the middle of the town of Mortain on the north side of the hill. Denius set up his position to look to the south and east halves of the hill and the other forward observer party set up on the other side of the hill.They got the entire area sighted in and set up a number of emergency and normal barrages. They scouted about half of Hill 314 with pre arranged barrages.

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[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division. This segment begins with Denius talking about his position on top of Hill 314.]Late that afternoon [Annotators Note: 6 August 1944] they began hearing German trucks and could see infantry unloading. They also saw tanks arriving within a mile of the bottom of the hill. When the opportune time came they began calling artillery fire in on the enemy positions. They were successful in knocking out a number of the German units but there fire also gave away their positions on the hill.In addition to the men on top of Hill 314 the 117th Regiment and 119th Regiment with their attached artillery and engineers were on each side of the hill. The terrain in the area determined the location of those units and they went into defensive positions as best they could.There were just under 700 men on top of the hill that went into position that afternoon of 6 August 1944.Even before dark the German air force flew over and strafed them. It was the first time in several weeks that they had seen elements of the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe.Division had laid wire communications to them on top of the hill in addition to the radios. The radios they used were called 509s and were 2 part units. The battery pack was half of the unit and weighed about 55 pounds by itself. The radio itself was carried by the radio sergeant and weighed about 50 pounds. The radio had to be bolted to the battery and an antenna run up before the unit could be used. It was not like a cell phone.They set up a foxhole right on the front lines next to a 30 caliber air cooled machine gun.On the morning of 7 August there was a lot of fog. The German Air Force came over and the Germans attacked en masse up Hill 314. That started the battle that would continue 24 7 for the next 6 and a half days. By the afternoon of 7 August they were completely surrounded by the German forces. The Germans had 5 panzer divisions and 70000 infantry. The Germans wanted to capture Hill 314 because as long as the hill was in American hands the supply lines to Pattons Third Army could be protected. The hill was very important and on 6 August Eisenhower radioed them to tell them to hold the hill at all cost.During the battle Denius was able to call in and direct not only the howitzers of the 230th Field Artillery Battalion but from the division artillery and corps artillery. While Denius called in artillery on his side of the hill the other observer party was calling in artillery on the other side. During the battle the lieutenant with Denius became incapacitated leaving only Denius and his radio sergeant Sherman Goldstein to call in artillery. The Germans were right in front of their positions and Denius and Goldstein took part in a lot of hand to hand fighting.Denius and his radio sergeant were able to get about 75 to 100 yards behind to the company commanders command post. That way they were constantly with the company commander and able to call in artillery whenever an attack came. The artillery barrages were already pre set so Denius only needed to give the emergency barrage number. They did not need to adjust the fire at all. Because of this they were able to successfully defend Hill 314 that first day of the battle.After they had been on the hill for 2 days their radio batteries began to get low. By using the emergency barrages they were able to shorten the time that they had to be on the radio.The Germans were experienced fighters and their SS division was very experienced. Because of this Denius had to adjust the artillery fire onto where the Germans were mounting their attacks. Later on Denius had to direct the artillery fire on the German tanks and supply lines. This went on day and night.The American troops were suffering a lot of casualties. Denius gives a lot of credit to the medics who did their best to care for the wounded.When they were in combat they were totally immersed in what they were doing and gave no consideration to anything else. They were only concerned with their fellow soldiers and accomplishing their mission. Denius has tried to do this in his civilian life but has been unable to.The most important thing for Franklin Denius as an artillery observer on 314 [Annotators Note: Hill 314] was communication. When the batteries for the radio died they would no longer be effective in preserving the defense of Hill 314 so they did everything they could to extend the life of the batteries.Another concern was whether or not the Germans would encircle them and attack from all angles and make it impossible for them to hold their positions.On the third day the Germans sent a white flag group to Hill 314. The Germans were waved up but were stopped mid way up the hill and were not shown the American positions. The Germans congratulated the Americans on their bravery but stated that they were going to launch and all out attack on the hill if the Americans did not surrender. A company commander on the hill declined the Germans surrender demands and the Germans returned to their positions and the battle resumed. True to their word the Germans launched an all out attack in all areas around the hill. After about 7 or 8 hours of fierce fighting the German attack was defeated around midnight. The Americans continued to hold Hill 314.

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[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division. This segment begins with Denius talking about the battle for Hill 314.]The attacks by the Germans were constant but usually in the afternoon or early morning. In the afternoon of the fifth day the Germans began an all out attack that was defeated by infantry and artillery fire. This attack was not as prolonged as the attacks of the previous days. Denius feels that the Germans had realized by that time that they would not be able to take the hill.After 6 and a half days the Germans began to withdraw. They could be seen withdrawing their trucks and artillery and even their tanks. All during the withdrawal they continued to fire on the dug in Americans. Denius and the other soldiers on the hill did not know at the time that the Germans were leaving. They thought the Germans were regrouping for another attack. Also by this time the 119th Infantry Division [Annotators Note: 119th Infantry Regiment] as well as elements of the 35th Division had arrived on the hill.The artillery Denius called in during the fighting for Hill 314 was located some 10 to 15 miles behind the lines. On top of 314 there were 2 forward observers. Denius gives a lot of credit to the other observer team. They were doing the same thing on their side of the hill that Denius and his radio sergeant were doing on their side.The difficult thing about defending infantry positions is how close in they could bring in the artillery. Even though the artillery howitzers were very accurate it was located 9 to 12 miles away and there could be some short rounds. Denius had to be particularly careful calling in artillery because of their location but he did the best he could.They were running out of food, ammunition, and batteries. On the third or fourth day Air Force [Annotators Note: US Army Air Forces] C47 supply planes flew over and dropped thousands of parachutes with ammunition, medicine and batteries. The German antiaircraft guns surrounding the hill forced the planes to fly extremely high and a lot of the supplies drifted away. They were able to recover some of the supplies but much of what was dropped ended up in the hands of the Germans. The American troops did get some medicine and ammunition but did not get and batteries for their artillery radios.Denius and his radio sergeant decided to set the batteries out in the sun the day and were happy to see that by doing this they could get 6 to 8 minutes of battery life doing this.The cut off units were in such desperate need of medicine that propaganda shells were packed with cotton and medical supplies and fired into the American perimeter. Denius called in much of these shells. Even though this method of resupplying cut off troops was considered unsuccessful Denius saw firsthand the look of relief on the faces of many of the wounded men on that hill.

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After the fighting in the Paris area Franklin Denius and his unit boarded trucks and travelled north of Paris. The British were on the northern edge. They passed through World War 1 towns but did not encounter any Germans. It was not until they got into Holland that they started running into enemy troops fighting delaying actions.They fought their way to the tip of Holland then into Germany where they went into positions to break through the Siegfried Line. After breaking through the Siegfried Line they started veering right. During the advance the 1st Division was on their right. They surrounded and fought their way all the way around Aachen. There was severe fighting in the forests like in the Hurtgen Forest. Denius was not in the Hurtgen Forest. They were on the outskirts of it.On 16 December [Annotators Note: 16 December 1944] Denius was sent back to division headquarters with his units quartering party. When they passed through Aachen they got strafed and bombed. Then they went through Malmedy where the massacre was and the fight against Peiper {Annotators Note: German SS Colonel Joachim Peiper].Several days after the battle of Mortain Sergeant Goldstein and Denius were notified that they were being awarded the Silver Star for what they had done during the battle. Several months later they were informed that the 2nd Battalion of the 120th Regiment was being awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Goldstein and Denius were attached to the 120th Regiment during the battle so they got the award as well.The 30th Division developed into 1 of the finest fighting units in the American Army in the European Theater of Operations. The confidence of the higher command was established during the hedgerow fighting and Denius believes that this confidence is why the 30th Division was selected as a spearheading unit for the Saint Lo breakout.Following the battle of Mortain around 12 or 14 August 1944 the division was reassembled and regrouped then began the job of protecting either the western or southern flank of Pattons Third Army.Within a few days of the ending of the battle for 314 [Annotators Note: Hill 314 outside of Mortain, France] they began attacking eastward. They fought their way through France protecting the left flank of Pattons Third Army all the way to the battle of the Falaise Gap. They linked up with the British and Canadians at the town of Falaise where the Germans had lost or surrendered over 50000 troops and were in full retreat.The Falaise Gap is historically recognized as the merger of the Third Army and First Army to the south and the British and Canadian Army forcing its way to the north. The purpose of this was to trap and surround as many German troops as possible.

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[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division] Following the closing of the Falaise Gap the German Army was in substantial retreat back to Germany but there were remnants that fought scattered battles against the advancing Americans.The 30th Division assembled 25 to 30 miles north of Paris where they were to protect against a possible German counterattack. Around 24, 25, or 26 August [Annotators Note: August of 1944] the French First Army under General DeGaulle moved into and liberated Paris.After the Germans retreated back into Germany the men in Denius division were able to relax a little. They still had perimeter detail and spent the time regrouping, cleaning themselves and their trucks, and getting their ammunition stored properly. They were preparing to move to the east toward Belgium.At about this time it was announced that the new Ninth American Army had arrived in France. The new Ninth Army started out with the old 30th Division. Over the following weeks they were able to move further east to start their next series of actions.

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[Annotators Note: Franklin Denius was an artillery forward observer in Battery C, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division]The French people had pretty much evacuated Normandy. As the Americans advanced inland toward Mortain they encountered more civilians who hid in safe places during the fighting. As they advanced into the areas that had been battlegrounds during World War 1 they were greeted by people throwing flowers and giving them wine and pies. The only problem Denius had was that he was carrying a radio and a rifle and was unable to accept all of the hospitality but he did get some great apple pie. As they moved through the towns in Northern France the people were gleeful that they had been liberated. It was a wonderful experience for Denius to see that even though he was up front with the combat troops and thinks that the rear area troops were the ones who truly enjoyed the appreciation shown by the newly liberated French civilians.Denius was wounded and received the Purple Heart on 2 occasions. In Normandy he received a flesh wound and was patched up by a medic. Later on in January during the Battle of the Bulge he was hit by rocket shell fragments in addition to suffering from frozen feet. His third Silver Star was awarded during the Battle of the Bulge during late December [Annotators Note: December of 1944] or early January [Annotators Note: January of 1945]. His fourth Silver Star was awarded on 25 January when he was wounded.

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Franklin Denius originally volunteered for service because he had already taken 4 of ROTC [Annotators Note: Reserve Officer Training Corps]. 3 and a half years in high school and a semester in college. He was a cadet officer at Schreiner [Annotators Note: Schreiner Institute in Kerrville, Texas] his senior year and had the privilege of being the president of his senior class in high school. The war was clearly raging and Denius thought that he could join the army program which would allow him to further his education. He could do this because he was only 17 at the time and too young to be called to active duty. The navy had a similar program but Denius chose the army. Denius entered the Citadel in late July of 1942 and completed 2 more semesters of college before he entered the service. This benefited Denius because when he returned to the United States in October of 1945 and was discharged from the service he was able to start classes at the University of Texas at the age of 20 years old.Denius had selected the army program because of his prior ROTC training and felt that he could better serve his country this way. He was also very intent on training in the artillery.Being a loyal Texan and American Franklin Denius felt that it was his duty to fight for his country. He did not fight for mom and apple pie. He fought for his buddies and for his objective. Denius loves his country and loves his state and takes pride in the fact that this country has historically been able to help others obtain freedom.
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