Charles R. Corbin, soldat de la 3e D.B. a Mortain, en 1944
Dares le numero de septembre dernier4 ont ete publi€s lea t€moignages d'anciens combattants americains revenus en 1997 et 1998 sur lea lieux oir ils se sont battus en 1944. Le Dr. Buisson nous communique, sous le titre u A cent yards de Mortain, 1944, celui de Charles R. Corbin, un autre ancien de I'arm6e amaricaine qui est revenlr a Mortain le 15 juin 1998, orl il a ete 4 Cf. Reuue de VA-chin et du Pays de Granville, t. 75, 1998, p.186-191.
Charles R. Corbin est pr€sident de 1'association des andens de Is 3e D. B. amEricaine. II habits Vass, en Caroline du nord. requ par M. Rene Langlois, maire-adjoint honoraire de Mortain, ainsi que par M. et Mme Crenel, proprietaires de la ferme de la Daierie qui fut detruite par les combats.
Lors de la contre-attaque allemande du debut aout 1944, il s'agissait de repousser 1'ennemi. Pres du village de la Daierie, au Neufbourg, 1'objectif etait de reprendre le carrefour de la Tete a la Femme, designe RJ 2726 par Charles R. Corbin. Notre veteran a bien reconnu les lieux qui 1'avaient profondement marque, les champs oit il s'etait battu et d'oiz il apercevait Mortain, notamment 1'Abbaye-Blanche, la Montjoie et la colline Saint-Michel (cote 314).
En 1944, Charles R. Corbin, age de dix-neuf ans, etait soldat de ire classe et servait comme eclaireur dans une section de reconnaissance de la 3e division blindee americaine7 commandee par le major general Maurice Rose, division appartenant au 7e corps commande par.le lieutenant general Collins, dans la ire armee commandee par le general Hodge. Chaque division blindee avait deux; groupements tactiques, A et B, denommes CCA et CCB8 , dont le role etait de soutenir Finfanterie ou les chars de cette division ou d'une division a laquelle un soutien etait apporte, en etablissant des postes d'observation et en assurant le guidage des tirs d'artillerie.9
6 RJ est 1'abreviation de route jonction en anglais, qui peut aussi se dire cross-roads, c'est-a-dire croisement ou carrefour. Le nombre joint a RJ est la cote du lieu. La carte IGN actuelle indique 277 et non 272 pour le carrefour de la Tete a la Femme.
7 Pendant la bataille de Mortain, la 3e division blindee americaine s'est surtout battue au Mesnil-Adelee, au Mesnil-Tbve et a Juvigny-le-Tertre. Dans cette localite, la municipalite a fait eriger une plaque commemorative en son honneur, sur la place de 1'eglise.
8 CC est 1'abreviation de combat command dans les armees anglaises et americaines. Le terme equivalent dans 1'armee frangaise est groupement tactique.
9 Ces explications sont issues d'une lettre du 29 decembre 1998 de Charles R. Corbin a notre redaction, en reponse a une demande de precisions. La reponse contenait d'ailleurs une version modifiee et completee du texte remis au Dr Buisson. C'est cette nouvelle version qui est presentee ici.
J'appartenais a la 391C section de reconnaissance de la batterie A, composee de sept a neuf hommes et equip& d'une jeep et d'un half-track. Pour nous comme pour n'importe quel soldat, les erreurs forgeaient notre experience et la fierte 1'emportait stir la peur.
Au cours de la premiere semaine d'aout, notre mission etait de preter main forte a tine compagnie de fantassins de la 4e division d'infanterielo. Le lieutenant Patterson, le sergent Marik et moi-meme avons emporte la radio de la jeep et sonunes partis ~ pied avec cette compagnie. Nous fournissions le support d'artillerie et noun avons atteint notre objectif apres titre restes coinces Bans tine grange (ou Line ecurie). Nous avolls alors re4~u tin appel nous demandant de revenir pour aller rejoindre la 1 re division d'infanterie 11. Lorsque nous y sommes arrives, nous avons appris qu'un obus avait tue nos chauffeurs Robert Horton et Jean Parenteau, et mis notre jeep hors d'usage.
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Charles R. Corbin, soldier of the 3rd
D.B. in Mortain, in 1944 Dares last September issue4 were published by veterans
of US fighters who returned in 1997 and 1998 to the scene where they fought in
1944. Dr. Buisson communicates to us, under the title u A hundred yards from
Mortain, 1944, that of Charles R. Corbin, another former member of the Amarican
army who returned to Mortain on June 15, 1998, where he was sent to Reuven from
VA-Chin and the Pays de Granville, t. 75, 1998, p.186-191. Charles R. Corbin is
the President of the Andean Association of the 3rd D. B. Amricaine. II Vass
clothes, North Carolina. by Mr. Rene Langlois, Honourary Deputy Mayor of Mortain,
and Mr. and Mrs. Crenel, owners of Daierie Farm, which was destroyed by the
During the German counter-attack of early August 1944, it was a question of repelling the enemy. Near the village of Daierie, in the Neufbourg, the goal was to take over the crossroads of the head to the woman, designated RJ 2726 by Charles R. Corbin. Our veteran recognized the places which had marked him deeply, the fields where he had fought, and where he saw Mortain, notably the Abbaye-Blanche, the Montjoie, and the hill Saint-Michel (Hill 314). In 1944, Charles R. Corbin, nineteen years old, was a soldier of the first class and served as scout in a reconnaissance section of the 3rd American Armored Division7 commanded by Major General Maurice Rose, a division of the 7th Corps commanded by Lieutenant General Collins, in the armies commanded by General Hodge. Each armored division had two; A and B battlegroups, named CCA and CCB8, whose role was to support the infantry or the tanks of that division or of a division to which support was provided by setting up observation posts and guiding artillery fire.
96 RJ is the abbreviation for a road junction in English, which can also be called cross-roads, that is to say crossroads or crossroads. The number attached to RJ is the location's rating. The current IGN map shows 277 and not 272 for the Tete a la Femme crossroads.7 During the Battle of Mortain, the 3rd American Armored Division fought mainly at Mesnil-Adelee, Mesnil-Tbve and Juvigny-le -Mound. In this locality, the municipality has erected a commemorative plaque in his honor, on the place of the church.8 CC is the abbreviation of combat command in the English and American armies. The equivalent term in the French army is tactical group.
9 These explanations come from a letter of 29 December 1998 from Charles R. Corbin to our editorial staff, in response to a request for clarification. The answer contained a modified and complete version of the text submitted to Dr. Buisson. This is the new version that is presented here. I belonged to the 391C battery recognition section A, made up of seven to nine men and equipped with a jeep and a half-track. For us, as for any soldier, mistakes forged our experience, and pride took away fear.
During the first week of August, our mission was to lend a helping hand to a company of infantrymen of the 4th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Patterson, Sergeant Marik and I took the radio from the jeep and took off with this company. We provided the artillery support and we reached our goal after title remains stuck Bans tine barn (or Line Stable). We then received a call asking us to return to join the 1st Infantry Division 11. When we arrived there, we learned that a shell had killed our drivers Robert Horton and Jean Parenteau, and put our jeep out of order.
On 8 August, we were again with the CWB and ordered to join the Armored Division and the 119th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division12, with a view to stopping a counterattack between White Abbey. and Mortain. Our goal was: RJ 272. We left Neufbourg early in the afternoon; We have left the Ila D977 highway, which connects Mortain to Sourdevall, turning left, and goes up the little road lined with little hillocks. It connects Le Neufbourg to Saint-Barthelemy, passing to the west and 10th to the 4th. The American Infantry Division is quoted in the 30th US Division and Major Towers ii Mortain, in 1944, in Revue de I'Avranchin ..., T. 75, 1998, 190.
11 The 1st US Infantry Division ... (see No. 7), p. 190. 12 Cf. n. 7, p. 189; The memories of the Hodges ergcnt during the Battle of Mortain, in Revue de I'Avranchin ..., 1998, p. 187.
American is quoted in the 30th division off the D 977 and D 5. We passed through the 12th regiment of infantry of the 4th division. At three hundred meters from our goal [about five hundred meters], we encountered strong resistance; our two head tanks were hit by enemy fire and burned. The Hogan armored division then turned the rest of our column into a field to the left of the road, to then attack by following a tank equipped with a sharp blade or a fork, pieces welded on the favors of the tank, destined to break the high banks, so that other tanks and vehicles can pass through these breaches.
Lieutenant Patterson tells John Manual, our driver, to follow the tank with a blade, which is responsible for piercing the hedge. We tried twice, because each tank of head was under the fire of the anti-tank guns. Lieutenant Cooper, the first company, stopped his tank near us and, while waiting for another hole to be pierced, joked: "Would not it be good to pay yourself a damn injury and get the hell out of here! His chariot passed us and was touched as he tried to cross the hedge. I felt the heat coming from the next bus, which was near my head. As we were walking backward, I saw two soldiers coming out of the tank and firing Lieutenant Cooper, then the rescuer did not seem seriously hurt; I waved her hand.
The other tanks were disposed at the periphery of the field. The guns of 88 Germans, who were waiting for us, broke loose: artillery and machine guns pounded our tanks and our infantry. The tank next to ours was ignited; a tanker had trouble getting out, another climbed on the tank to clear but was hit by a bullet, then the first one was decapitated by a shell. At this point, we evacuated the half-track. I was standing between two infantrymen when a shell landed behind us, seriously wounding both of them, to the point that I thought they were dead! The rest of the 30th Division retreated. Almost all of our tanks had been hit, and the men who had managed to get out of it fell back to the nearest hedge. Our driver was thrown to the arm by a shrapnel and I helped him to stay away. All the men of our section, with the exception of Lieutenant Patterson, who was kneeling, leaned over the two infantrymen, near our track. I signaled him to come back, but he made me a sign to join him. He already administers the first aid to the wounded and was in the process of making a bite of morphine. We carried and attached one of them to the left half-track bone guard and held the other on the right mudguard while the lieutenant was driving the vehicle to safety.
It was an infernal battle of which a nineteen-year-old was a witness, while we were the losers, with many wounds and wounds, and fifteen of our seventeen destroyed tanks! What remained of it was commanded by a corporal, who at that time had the highest rank of the company! We moved our half-track in the field to the right of the small path, then we crawled underneath and began digging, the ground was rocky and difficult to start. On the morning of August 10, a radio message arrived for Colonel Hogan, who had settled in the field opposed to ours. As I was going on the road, the shell fire resumed and I threw myself on the ground. When I was able to go back, I noticed Leo Zemitus who told me if you should be touched, it was your turn! It was with the detachment of our battery A, with Hogan. I reached Colonel Hogan's half-track at the same time that a barrage was recommenced. Flogan and his crew had dug a hole in a piece of furniture, over which they had placed the half-track. The hole was deep and they could hold each other. I handed the message to Colonel Hogan, and while I was halfway back, I saw a nurse near Zemitus on the ground, whose arm had been pierced by shrapnel. The night before, the Germans had crawled into the field where Hogan had been and had tried to throw hand grenades under the vehicles, but they were killed by our shots.
On the morning of August 10th, an attack was launched by the way to the RJ 272 by the 119th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division, with Lieutenant Patterson and Sergeant Marik, but it was a failure and very few came back . I saw a nurse who was loading a man whose chin had been torn off, and another man whose arm was hanging in his sleeve. A sergeant, who had not been hurt, was terribly shocked. Patterson and Marik were unhurt.
In the morning of August 11, other elements of the CWB reached us and another attack was attempted on the right of our half-track. The light tank Mark 5, Hot Hedy, appeared from the headquarters of the 39th Reconnaissance Section, with Bill Fullarton, Summers, Sergeant Ray Pierce and First Lieutenant John Forston, to provide artillery reinforcement. to another company of the 119th regiment. The Germans were waiting for them when they reached the next hedge and unleashed artillery and machine guns. I was in the hole under our half-track when a second lieutenant knelt down and motioned for his men to advance. They were mowing as they passed near us. The The survivors retreated, and the dead and wounded were carried by the nurses.
A general attack was planned for the next morning, August 12th. Lieutenant Patterson and Sergeant Marik crawled along our hedge, passing by on the other side and Minire some objectives. In chetnin, they saw a German run in the house, and they blew up this one with heavy artillery. Our tanks were preparing for the next day's attack. That night, when I was on guard, something chilled me and pained me. There was an inhabitant noise, which will turn out to be that of a VI! He exploded, after Parrot's engine, about a mile farther on.
That night and all night, the Germans retreated, allowing us to advance a hundred meters and to reach our goal, the: RJ 272 Island intersection of the Tote A la Fernme]. We then made a last turn and returned to CWB Headquarters, where we received orders to air the Malaise pocket. It was good to find ourselves on the road, after three days and three nights spent in the same hole S01-IS IC halftrack! I thought about Lieutenant Cooper and I'm starting to envy his place!
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