Segment 3

Annotation

The next morning, possibly around 3 am, Baldwin and the rest of Cannon Company were told to get ready to go ashore. To do this they had to scale the rope ladders on the sides of the ship. With a full field pack, rifle, bandoleers, etc., you had about 60 extra pounds on you. Baldwin weighed about 155 to 160 pounds at the time. Baldwin and 2nd Infantry Division troops climbed down onto a landing barge and they didn't know what was about to happen. It was dark outside, but the beach was fairly well lit with flares. And all the ships had dirigible balloons to keep German planes from coming in and strafing the area. They couldn't get their cannons ashore yet, so a young man from Georgia, James Lofton, and Baldwin were assigned to 1 another and issued a 30-caliber machine gun and 2 ammunition boxes. They were told that when they hit the beach, then they would know what to do. Lt. Kline [Annotator's Note: or Klein?] from Pennsylvania told them what to do and Baldwin felt he was one of the best Lieutenants you could ever have. As they went ashore, there were so many dead and so much equipment on the beach and it was so torn up that they realized they were in trouble. They went toward the hill and made sure not to bunch up. When they first got on board the barge that there was a sailor that didn't even have a cap on. He had a t-shirt and pants on and no shoes on. He had been landing troops on the beach all day and seemed comfortable and like he was relaxing. Baldwin remembered that they had sank so many landing boats off the coast that they had to weave their way toward the shore. So many had been killed there that the water was pink as it washed up on the sand. Lofton and Baldwin went ashore and moved on inland into position. When they finally got to a ridgeline, they were told to get into position. There was noise everywhere, you can't imagine what was going on. There was machine gun and rifle fire, and explosions everywhere and you weren't really sure what everything was about. There was noise everywhere. They went into position and there was a town not far from their position called Trévières. The riflemen had gone in and the heavy weapons troops, like Lofton and Baldwin, were right behind them. The Germans made up their mind that they weren't going to leave the town. The 2nd Infantry Division wanted it for their headquarters. Lofton and Baldwin set up their position and it was from there that the war started for them. As they went ashore on the beach and got into Normandy, they were in a hole and the Germans brought up tanks and infantry. Anywhere you heard tanks, there would be infantry around them too. They came up to the beach as close as they could and fired onto the beach. As Lieutenant Siegfried in Cannon Company was getting the first M3 105mm Howitzer cannon ashore, they hurried to get it into position. When they got it into position and ready to fire, the tank fired on them, killed them, and destroyed the gun. These were the 1st men, or boys, that the Cannon Company lost during the war. These were men that Baldwin trained with at Camp McCoy, Ireland, Wales, and now the rest of the company wasn't even off the boat and they were already losing men. Lofton and Baldwin did what they could from their position. Lofton said that Baldwin looked tired and suggested that he just take a nap in their hole. Everything was really quiet and there was a lull in the battle. Baldwin recalled that the Germans were resting and resupplying at times, just like the American troops. James Lofton was a big guy and very strong. He would tell Baldwin to get the ammunition boxes and Lofton would get the gun and the tripod. They could have that gun in position and firing in a matter of seconds. This time Lofton told Baldwin to rest and said that he would be alright for a while, so Baldwin rolled over into a ditch and lay down. In a few hours, Lofton woke Baldwin up and was laughing. Lofton asked if he know where he'd been taking his nap. Baldwin realized that there was a dead German laying in the hole with him. This was the first German that Baldwin had ever seen in the war. Lofton knew the dead soldier was there, but just let Baldwin sleep for a while. People wonder how you slept during war, but you just shut your eyes and fell asleep. You were so exhausted and tired you just fell asleep. They went on and took the town of Trévières, even with the Germans not wanting to give it up. Several rifle companies entered the town and took it, even with some hand to hand combat. Baldwin remembered that they fired on the town with as much artillery and machine gun ammunition as they could and when they finished, the rifle companies went into the town. They went building by building fighting the Germans out of there. The 2nd Infantry Division took that town, but lost a lot of men doing so. 2 days later, General Robertson [Annotator's Note: Major General Walter M. Robertson] and the 2nd Infantry Division Headquarters came in within the next 2 days. Baldwin and Lofton were positioned during the attack with their machine gun up on a hill. There was an apple orchard or something there and a long grade [Annotator's Note: open view] into the town. There was a dirt road going from their machine gun position that went down a hill into the town. They were approximately 200 to 250 yards away firing into the town. They held fire once the riflemen entered town. After the fighting in Trévières, their M3 105mm Cannons arrived and they had to give their 30-caliber machine gun back. They started forming gun sections and Lofton was placed in 1, while Baldwin was placed in another. During the rest of the war, they were never together on the same crew other than seeing each other. Baldwin was assistant gunner in his section and he thinks Lofton was in his too. After they left Trévières, they were told that things would be bad. What they didn't know was that supplies were short. They were rationed bullets, food, shells for the cannons. The tide had gone out and weather had gotten bad causing so much difficulty in getting supplies ashore. The Cannon Company along with the 2nd Infantry Division were now going to have to take Saint Lo.

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