Segment 4

Annotation

Outside of St. Lo, there was a hill, not a mountain, but a hill called Hill 192. They knew that things would be bad there. When the attack started to take the hill, the Germans let the regiment [38th Infantry Regiment] climb the hill and then they counterattacked. When the Germans attacked, they were shooting down on the 38th Regiment. The men of the 38th Infantry Regiment had not even had a chance to dig in yet or anything. Colonel Barsanti called and Baldwin's gun section at that time was the only 1 in position and ready to fire. Colonel Barsanti called for direct fire and said, "See if you can silence this radio on my back." And he directed their fire. Baldwin and his cannon crew fired their guns so many times and so fast that they just kept tearing the hillside up while the rest of the guns got into position and started firing too. [Annotator's Note: Baldwin asked to stop the tape for a bathroom break. Interviewer Tommy Lofton asked Baldwin to again state his full unit info.] Baldwin explained that when he and James Lofton got their cannons after a day and a half to 2 days from landing on the beach, that they had to have trucks to pull them, ammunition carriers, a lot was needed to keep the company going. When the cannons came in, they were happy because they could get in behind the mortars. Baldwin then describes the order of entering combat in saying that: you had your riflemen, then your heavy weapons, then you had 60 and 80mm mortars, then you had Cannon Company. The 105 and 155mm Howitzers were a mile or 2 away. The Cannon Company was up with the infantry and sometimes even had to just shoot point blank by looking down the barrel and sighting in the weapon. Baldwin felt that the 38th Infantry Regiment had some of the best leaders in the Army. He didn't know that then, but felt that way later after reading back on the war. Baldwin felt that General Walter Roberston was Number 1 and that little has been said bad about him. He was only a 2-star General [Annotator's Note: Major General] but he was smart and knew what was going on and saved a lot of men's lives. They loved him to death. Even when beer would be rationed, he wouldn't let them have it. He felt that his men may get killed, but it wouldn't be because they were drinking.The Germans were known for drinking schnapps and fight in combat and be hyped up, not caring about what happened to them. When they finally took Hill 192, they were heading to St. Lo. Baldwin thinks that there was probably about 1 building that was not just completely leveled. The U.S. had air superiority over the Germans and the only building he remembered standing was a hospital that had a big Red Cross on the outside of it. He thinks that there were probably both wounded Americans and Germans being treated there. They moved on through many other towns and cities. [Anotator's Note: Baldwin then wanted to give a little credit to the 101st Airborne, who on several occasions in Normandy worked near the 2nd Division.] Baldwin recalled that the paratroopers in the 101st Airborne Division had a "popper" [Annotator's Note: "cricket/clicker" toy] that they would sound near each other. He remembered that sometimes when the Germans captured a paratrooper that they would take it and would use it to kill other paratroopers in the field. Jack remembered reading about Dick Winters after the war, from Band of Brothers, and that Winters told his men that they would be ok as they entered 1 town because the "seasoned 2nd Division" was on 1 of their flanks. Years later, it made Baldwin and some of his comrades happy to read. Jack remembered that a lot of the divisions were sent over there out of civilian life. The only training some had at all were from cadres that were sent to reserve units and guard units to make soldiers out of them. He felt you can't take men off the street and give them 13weeks of training and put a rifle in their hand and expect them to perform as well as a soldier that has been in for 5 years with an old Army outfit. It doesn't work that way. Baldwin felt that he was so fortunate to get into the 2nd Infantry Division, an old World War I combat unit. They left St. Lo and continued through more of hedgerow country and it was terrible. Baldwin remembers having to fire on the hedgerows in order to tear them to pieces for the riflemen to get through more easily. As the riflemen would go over the hedgerows, the Germans were waiting on them. The Germans had an MG-42 [Annotator's Note: German machine gun Maschinengewehr 42] that was horrible, it fired so fast and the Americans didn't have anything like it or the German equipment until later on. The 38th Infantry Regiment lost a lot of men there and continued getting replacements during the fighting. When they left "hedgerow country," General Robertson was told to pull the whole division back. The division was sent toward Brest, France and had to fight their way there. Brest was 1 of their major supply ports and when the battle was over, they were introduced to the 240mm gun [Annotator's Note: 240mm howitzer M1]. They fired point blank at these walls for hours and hours so that infantry could go through. The Germans tried to escape by boats and barges and when they would, the US artillery and aircraft would sink them in the harbor. They decided then to hold the city and fight it out.

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