Segment 8

Annotation

After George Griffenhagen’s unit [Annotators Note: Griffenhagen arrived in England as a member of Company E, 20th Engineer Regiment which split into the 20th Engineer Combat battalion and the 1340th Engineer Combat Battalion. After the split, Griffenhagen became a member of Company B, 1340th Engineer Combat Battalion] split in England they did a lot of training removing mines on the Welsh Coast. They suffered casualties and even lost their commander at this time. Mines are tricky things to fool around with. They also trained with Bailey Bridges and the 20th Engineers and 1340th Engineers must have built more Bailey Bridges than any other unit in the United States Army. During their training in England, Griffenhagen got leave and went to London. That is where he met his future wife who unfortunately passed away two days after their 62nd wedding anniversary. A Bailey Bridge was like an erector set. The first one they assembled in Normandy was on 9 June [Annotators Note: 9 June 1944]. They needed to get tanks across but the Germans had all of the accesses leading to it covered with guns. They ended up building the bridge during the night. A German plane flew over and dropped flares over them and they would have to stay still but they got it built. The Bailey Bridges were just temporary bridges but there is at least one still standing in Carentan which has been reinforced and is mostly there as a novelty. In addition to building Bailey Bridges they built abutments using logs and rocks. Griffenhagen went ashore in Sicily aboard an LCI [Annotators Note: Landing Craft, Infantry]. The ladders going down the sides of an LCI are exposed to enemy fire so it was decided to use Higgins boats [Annotators Note: LCVPs or Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel] for the landings in Normandy. For Normandy, Griffenhagen went across in LST505.They were attached to the Big Red 1 [Annotators Note: the Big Red 1 is the nickname of the US 1st Infantry Division] and went ashore on Omaha. The 20th went in on the early waves and the 1340th went in on the follow up waves. Griffenhagen did not go ashore until the second day [Annotators Note: 7 June 1944]. His memory of his time on LST505 was watching the battleships firing in big circles not far from them. He had never heard battleship guns go off. Aboard LST505 they were with Z Corps Headquarters. The Z Corps Headquarters had never seen action and all ran to the rails the first time a German shell landed near the ship kicking up a huge water spout. The first indication they had of what was happening was when a Higgins boat floated by with a dead GI aboard it.

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