On 21 June, we closed into the division rear echelon area near Cartigny, about four miles from Isigny, France. We set up our tent and dug slit trenches big enough to bury a horse. Our stay here was long and happy. Some of my outstanding impressions: Steady and constant rain -- 10 and 1 and K rations -- first helmet baths -- plenty of movies- - Cpl. Harvey discovering Calvados - the terrific artillery barrage on 25 July - 3000 heavy and medium bombers going over our heads -- the hair-raising stories of hardship and danger that got back to us after the crossing of the Vire Canal -- our first casualties -- nightly visits by "bed check Charlie" and the curtain of ack-ack our boys threw at him -- our first taste of French champagne -- and more stories of what a hell it was up on the front lines. On 30 July the rear echelon left the vicinity of Cartigny and Isigny and moved approximately eighteen miles to Saint-Lo, France.
Saint-Lo was the site of a crucial offensive against Germany's Panzer Divisions, which had assembled near the town in a seemingly impenetrable line. The 30th Division was instrumental in what became known as the "Saint-Lo Breakthrough" in late July. We find a pretty, hilly town, but most of the buildings are clearly of postwar construction. A gentleman in the square near the cathedral points out a mortar shell still lodged in the side of the church, which lost one of its steeples.
On 14 August, the afternoon before Dinah Shore made a personal appearance there, we moved from Saint-Lo to the vicinity of Le Celland, France. Our trip to this location was notable for the abundance of destroyed tanks, homes, livestock, vehicles, and the general destruction of the countryside.
(Top: The Saint-Lo Memorial. Right: A mortar shell embedded in the Saint-Lo cathedral wall)