Campaign in France
Campaign in France
(Third Army Location: St. Jacques de Nehou)
(7 July 44 - 1 Aug 44)
The 33rd Signal Construction Battalion landed at Utah Beach, Cherbourg Peninsula, on July 7, 8, and 9, 1944, and proceeded to its first bivouac in the area northwest of St. Jacques de Nehou and south of Bricquebec. At this time Third Army Headquarters was being established two miles east of St. Jacques. This Battalion installed the trunking between the Army Command Post and the rear echelon and ran local lines within both areas. This was not normally our duty, but at the time the 33rd was the only Signal unit with the equipment and material to do the job.
Four crews were detached to Army Headquarters to set up and operate construction centers (wire heads). These crews installed the Lucky (Third Army) and Lucky Rear wire heads in dugouts and remained to operate the Lucky wire head and maintain Lucky lines. The Lucky Rear wire head was taken over by another unit.
Some Third Army units were already in France, and our crew provided communications to other units each day as they arrived. A switching central (Oraille Switch) was established at Battalion Headquarters, and men from Headquarters Company were quickly trained as operators (T/O 11-25 does not provide for switchboard operators). These men were later replaced by operators from the 301st Signal Operation Battalion.
It was soon determined that for efficient operation a central control point was necessary in order to coordinate the various jobs and dispatch crews. Therefore each construction company established a wire operations center for this purpose. A noncommissioned officer was placed in charge of each operations center, with one assistant and a draftsman. In order to keep abreast of the current status of all crews, a card system was established. One card was made for each crew, listing the number of the crew, type of equipment, type truck, members of crew, etc. These cards were hung on a dispatch board, which was divided into sections indicating crews in or out. Separate smaller cards were made to be used on the "IN" side of the board to indicate further each crews status, such as Guard, Alert, Rest, etc. For example if a crew was on guard duty their card would be hung on the "IN" side of the board with a smaller "Guard" card placed on top of it. In conjunction with these cards, a daily sign-out sheet was kept, showing the crew number, date, job number, time dispatched, and time returned. In order to make sure that administrative details would not conflict with construction activities, all rosters (guard, KP, etc.) were either maintained or supervised by the operations center. Records were kept showing progress of each job, and upon completion an overlay was prepared for the information of higher headquarters. Similar records were kept on maintenance of existing lines.
An officer was attached to the Army Signal Section to act as Liaison Officer. His Duties were to transmit orders from the Signal Section to the Battalion and to furnish the Signal Section with any information it might require in regard to material, personnel, and equipment available in the Battalion. He kept in close contact with the operations centers, transmitted construction orders to them, and received progress reports, etc. for them.
Rehabilitation work was immediately started on the German Naval lead, a line left by the Germans which started at Cherbourg and extended south through Coutances. Originally the crews started using all the existing materials, but after rehabilitating about two miles it was decided that, due to the damaged condition of the wire and the unfamiliar transposition scheme, it would be better to use only the poles. Two standard ten pin cross-arms and .104 copper wire would be placed on these poles, and the Army axis of wire communication was to be extended on this lead when we moved forward. As this lead was across country, progress of the work was hampered by hedgerows, which either necessitated long detours for the trucks or prevented their access to the line altogether, making it necessary at times to pull in wire by hand. At one time horses were borrowed from French farmers to pull in wire in places inaccessible to trucks. Later a bulldozer was obtained and used to cut a path through the hedgerows so that trucks could be driven beside the lead for its entire length.
Inasmuch as the Army Signal Section desired up-to-the-minute information on the progress being made on this line, a system was devised whereby the line crews would place a white flag on the top of the last pole to which the line had been completed. A reconnaissance plane (L-4 or L-5) would fly over the line until he spotted the flag, and the report the position by radio.
Upon completing our first section of the line (Bricquebec to St. Sauveur) Company B moved to the vicinity of LaHaye du Puits. The section between St. Sauveur and La Haye was completed by the 34th Signal Construction Battalion. They continued the work of extending the lead from La Haye du Puits south as far as the tactical situation would permit. Here they were under enemy observation, and artillery barrages were frequent. This was our first experience under shellfire. The men slept in covered foxholes, and the loss of sleep due to artillery fire caused a lowering of efficiency on the job. The line was damaged by shellfire several times.
A number of field wire lines were also constructed during this period, and some wire was recovered(see S-3 report for July, 1944)
The original plan for the Third Army was to maintain the advance with Corps abreast: XV Corps on the left flank, XX Corps in the center, and VIII Corps on the right flank. The Army Axis was to be extended on the open wire lead following XX Corps, and spiral-four cable was to be laid to the flanking Corps.
The open wire lead was extended to Lessay Test, about half way between La Haye du Puits and Lessay. The XV Corps went into operations July 32, and moved to the vicinity of St. Martin d'Aubigny. Fifteen miles of spiral-four were laid from Lessay Test to this location. This was our first rapid spiral-four construction job, and was completed two hours ahead of schedule.
At the time of the August 1st breakthrough our efforts to extend the open wire lead south as rapidly as possible were redoubled. However, there was a bottleneck at Lessay. The enemy had been in fixed positions here for sometime, and had covered the countryside with mines. One crew was detailed to detect and clear mines along the right-of-way ahead of the construction crews. Thirty-eight mines were removed from the pole line right-of-way in a single afternoon.
Communication to the new Army CP at Bingard was established by another unit, using spiral-four from Lessay Test. Meanwhile this Battalion (Less Company B) moved to Montsurvent, 1 1/2 miles from the Army CP. Company B remained at La Haye.
(Third Army Location: Bingard, 1 Aug. 44 - 2 Aug. 44)
(24 miles from St. Jacques de Nehou)
Immediately upon arrival at this location, plans were made to move again the following day, as the Corps were already far ahead. This Battalion was assigned to continue work on the open wire lead while the 34th Signal Construction Battalion extended the Army axis with spiral-four.
(Third Army Location: Beauchamps, 2 Aug. 44 - 7 Aug. 44)
(22 miles from Bingard)
As it was now obviously impossible to extend the Army axis fast enough on open wire it was decided to stop work on it at Coutances by first bringing one arm of wire through to that point. This would give us five circuits until the second was brought up, and then the line would be taken over by Com Z troops.
At this time one officer and four crews were dispatched to
XV Corps to establish and maintain Army-Corps communications (see notes on "Detachment with XV Corps").
Company B completed it section of the open wire lead, and with Battalion Headquarters moved to a bivouac three miles north of St.James, from which they could work on a further extension of the Army axis. Two teams were on detached service at the Beauchamps wire head. Two spiral-four cables were laid from Beauchamps through Avranches and St. James to Fougeres. The roads were jammed with trucks and tanks; traffic would often be stalled for 20 to 30 minutes, making construction work very slow. Lines in the process of construction were frequently cut by tanks before the crews were able to put them in the air. It was necessary to reroute the lines twice at Avranches because they were being hit by bombs near the river crossing. Collaborators were prevalent in and around the city, and our cables were cut many times, making constant patrols necessary.
Company A completed the open wire lead to Coutances and joined the rest of the Battalion at the St. James area. At this time the enemy was endeavoring to push through Avranches to the sea and thereby cut off the advance elements of the Third Army. Constant alertness was necessary on the job, and in bivouac. Enemy aircraft attacked this area dropping antipersonnel bombs.
Spiral-four cable and field wire became scarce and in spite of the desperate need for construction crews, it was necessary to send a section of one platoon back to St. Jacques to recover wire.
(Third Army Location: Poilley, 7 Aug 44 - 11 Aug 44)
Spiral-four cables extending south from Beauchamps had been completed before Army Headquarters moved to Poilley; thus wire communications to the rear were established by means of spiral-four to Coutances, where it tapped on to the open wire lead.
The extension of the Army axis in preparation for the next move was done by the 34th Signal Construction Battalion. Several long locals were installed by the 33rd in this vicinity.
(Third Army Location: St. Ouen, 11 Aug 44 - 14 Aug 44)
(35 miles from Poilley)
In order to be more conveniently located for additional construction ahead of the Army CP, this Battalion moved to St. Jean, about 29 miles from St. Ouen, between Laval and LeMans. Here we started to put in a two-circuit bracket lead on existing poles along the road from Laval and LeMans, filling in the gaps by replacing poles where necessary. Lack of materials forced us to abandon this job and look for existing facilities to fulfill our requirements. Two days had been wasted on this work, so it was now necessary to produce wire communications as quickly as possible. Extensive surveys of existing civilian facilities were made, which showed that underground cable could be rehabilitated and used for army circuits, as well as an open wire lead along the railroad from Laval to LeMans, although portions of the latter were still in enemy hands. Our cable crews were called into action, and they made the underground cable good from Laval to St. Jean, a distance of 17 1/2 miles. Inasmuch as our cable splicers' tool kits had been received incomplete, each cable splicer had only a hammer, knife, telephone(EE8A), some tape and whatever he could get from the line crews.
As soon as the enemy was cleared from Evron and Sille, the French open wire was rehabilitated along the railroad from Laval to LeMans (54 miles). This lead had been bombed out at all towns and railroad stations, as well as numerous other points. Breaks were patched through with field wire and spiral-four cable. Maintenance of this line was difficult because of it inaccessibility to trucks.
Orders were received to have communications completed for a new Army CP at La Bazoge (north of LeMans) by 1200, August 14. Spiral-four was laid from the underground cable terminal at St. Jean to La Bazoge, and also from the French open wire on the railroad near La Chapelle to the proposed location.
As the speed of the advance increased the lines of wire communication became exceedingly long. While Army Headquarters was at this location, VIII corps was at Miniac Moran(75 miles away), XV Corps was east of Alencon (45 miles away), and XX Corps was just southwest of La Ferte Bernard (28 miles away).
(Third Army Location: La Bazoge, 14 Aug 44 - 20 Aug 44)
(56 miles from St.Ouen)
After trunk lines to this location were completed the Battalion move to the vicinity of Nogent le Retrou (39 miles from the Army CP) on August 15. Again the Battalion was bivouacked ahead of the Army CP to facilitate pushing forward the Army axis.
For some time we had been trying desperately to either requisition or borrow cable splicers' kits, but none were available anywhere. Finally kits were borrowed from the 93rd Signal Battalion. This was very fortunate, as a great deal of work was done on underground cable, and it formed a very essential part of the wire system. Underground cable was made good from LeMans to La Bazoge to Alencon (30 miles), from La Bazoge to LeMans to Nogent le Rotrou(39 1/2 miles), and the city tie cable in LeMans was also made good so that these wires could be cross-connected.
Spiral-four cable was laid from La Bazoge to Savigne Switch to connect with XV and XX Corps.
While Third Army was at this location XV Corps advanced north to assist in closing the Falaise Gap, and wire communications to it were discontinued, as they also were to VIII Corps which was at Brest. XII Corps joined the Army advance and moved up just southeast of LeMans; XX Corps was 62 miles from La Bozoge. The XX Corps line was too long for satisfactory transmission, and no carrier or repeater equipment was available, so it was routed through Nogent Switch and calls were relayed by the operator. Nogent Switch, operated by Company A, was also connected in the Lucky-Hickory (XV Corps) circuit until service to Hickory was suspended. There being no switchboard operators in the company, it was necessary to train operators while actually on the job.
(Third Army Location: Brou, 20 Aug 44 - 25 Aug 44)
(66 miles from La Bazoge)
The Battalion was given 36 hours notice on the job of installing wire communications from La Bozoge to a point about three miles west of Chateaudun, which was the proposed new CP for Army. However we already had spiral-four and underground cable circuits to Nogent le Rotrou, and civilian facilities beyond this point had been surveyed in preparation for a move. One spiral-four cable was laid from the underground cable terminal at Nogent to the French open wire railroad lead. Two open wire circuits were made good from Nogent to Authen to Royale to Courtalain to Chateaudun, and extended to the new CP with spiral-four. Just as this work was completed, word was received that the location of the CP had been changed to a point just northeast of Brou. Wire communications were completed to the new CP on the same day in spite of the change. This was done by tapping spiral-four on the open wire lead at Royale. Two existing open wire leads were used with spiral-four filling in the gaps between Royale and the new location(10 miles). It was necessary to put the last four miles of spiral-four on lance poles to get it off the ground. Later four additional open wire circuits were made good from Nogent to Arrou to Brou. While on this job we encountered a ground on the open wire, and found that on a frame poles constructed at corners the wire on the bottom bracket nearest the pole touched the push-brace. It was necessary to examine every corner pole on the line to reduce the ground so that transmission was satisfactory. Open wire was also rehabilitated from Chateaudun to Bonneval to Brou.
After completing communications to the Army CP at Brou, the Battalion moved there to join Army Headquarters. The same day Company A was attached to XX Corps at Oysonville, near Etampes, to extend Corps communication along the Army axis, and to maintain communication between Corps and Army. At this time Corps was moving very fast, and the company was engaged exclusively in extending lines along the axis of communication with spiral-four.
Spiral four cables were placed between Brou and Pithiviers by other units, and this Battalion extended this line on rehabilitated open wire and spiral-four to the new Army Location at Courcy.
(Third Army Location: Courcy, 25 Aug 44 - 30 Aug 44)
(68 miles from Brou)
The Battalion (less Company A) moved to Montvillers on August 23, and immediately started work on communications from Courcy to Nogent-sur-Seine. This was established on rehabilitated open wire and spiral-four construction through Nemours. Several local lines were installed in this vicinity.
Underground cable was made good from Nemours to Bourron, and from Moret to Montereau to Sens.
At this time gasoline was scarce and we barely had enough for the next move.
(Third Army Location: Foret de Lancy)
(30 Aug 44- 4 Sep 44)
(77 miles from Courcy)
This Battalion (less Company A) moved to Couregenay on August 30, the same day of the Army move. Communications to the New Army CP were established by running six spiral-four cables to Nogent, where lines had already been established back to the old location.
By this time the gasoline shortage was at its peak. One crew installed a talking circuit from Lucky switchboard to a gasoline depot near Fontainebleau by using spiral-four, underground cable, and open wire. As it was impossible to obtain gasoline in this area, and a truck was sent back to Cherbourg, nearly 300 miles, for gasoline.
During this period our cable crews were being used extensively in the rehabilitation of underground cable. Their rehabilitation of the Troyes-Chalons cable provided a major portion of circuits to the advanced CP. An open wire lead from Villeneuve to Troyes was made good, and the remainder (i.e. old CP to Villeneuve, and Chalons to new CP) was filled in with spiral-four cable. On September 4, the 33rd moved with Army Headquarters to the vicinity of Chalons-sur-Marne.
(Third Army Location: Chalons-sur-Marne)
(4 Sep 44-15 Sep 44)
(88 miles from Foret de Lancy)
Inasmuch as convoys moved very slowly along the busy roads, it was found more efficient to move to the new bivouac by infiltration. The vehicles would move out in small groups, and those crews which were on the job could join the company at the new location after finishing their current jobs. This practice was continued on subsequent moves. Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company moved to Regret on September 5, to join Company A. Company B remained with Army.
Circuits were made good on a German open wire line from the Valmy repeater station to Auve. From there the line split into two sections, one extending back toward Chalons, and the other southeast to Revigny. Our crews rehabilitated both of these sections, one of which was used for circuits from the Army CP to Valmy.
During this period our cable crews rehabilitated underground cable from Chalons to Reims (37.8 miles), Reims to Valmy (39 miles), Valmy to Verdun (32 miles), and Verdun to Gravelotte (30 miles). On the total job, which was completed on September 7, four quads were made good from Chalons to Gravelotte. Due to the fact that Gravelotte was retaken by the enemy, that terminal had to be abandoned. The cable was later opened and a terminal point established just east of Mars la Tour to serve XX Corps.
The Chalons-Verdun section of this cable was utilized in establishing communications with the new CP near Etain. From Verdun there was two alternate routes: (1) continuing along the underground cable to a terminal at the junction of highways N3 and N408, to which another unit had provided spiral-four circuits from the new CP; ( (2) open wire was made good from the underground cable terminal at Verdun to Etain. Third Army Headquarters moved to the new CP on September 15.
(Third Army Location: Braquis and Etain)
(15 Sep 44 -11 Oct 44)
(65 miles from Chalons)
Shortly after the Army's move, Lucky Rear moved to an area four miles north of Etain. The big push was stalled at Metz and a few miles east of Nancy, and the cold weather was coming on, so it was decided to move the army installation into billets. A third echelon of Army Headquarters, Lucky Command, set up in Etain on September 22, and the old Lucky CP at Braquis gradually moved into Etain to join Lucky Command. Our Crews installed and operated the Lucky Command wire head in Etain.
Company B had moved to this vicinity September 14, but it was necessary to leave several crews in the area of the old CP to pick up wire, which was still scarce. Work on the French open wire lead was continued, and it was made good from Etain through Jarny to Mars la Trou, to serve for alternate circuits to XX Corps. Other circuits to this Corps utilized the underground cable from the N408 terminal point. Later this Battalion rehabilitated the lead from Mars la Tour to Arnaville. This provided circuits from Lucky to Arnaville test, from which we laid two spiral-four cables through Pont-a-Mousson to Nancy, to connect with XII Corps. While these lines were being constructed along the Moselle the enemy was only a short distance across the river; the line crews were frequently under fire from the enemy's 88mm guns, and these cables were constantly being knocked out. Long range fire from 280mm guns also damaged the lines. The 34th Signal Construction Battalion laid two Spiral-four cables from Etain to Arnaville to connect with our cables to Nancy, for carrier circuits to XII Corps. Our crews rerouted this cable between Chambley and Arnaville, as it was continually being knock out by enemy fire in this section.
Battalion Headquarters and Company A were at this time bivouacked between Mars la Tour and Jarny. An open wire lead was rehabilitated from Verdun to the N408 cable terminal point. Wet weather set in, and mud Hampered our operations considerably at this time. The french open wire along the railroads was particularly troublesome in wet weather. It was in general poorly insulated, and the collection of soot on the insulators from passing trains became an excellent conductor when wet, forming a perfect path to ground through the metal pins and cross arms. The only satisfactory way to remove the grounds from these lines was to wipe each insulator with carbon tetrachloride-- a slow and tedious process. Cracked insulators also caused trouble in bad weather.
Battalion Headquarters and one platoon of Company A moved to Pont-a Mousson on October 1. During this time Pont-a-Mousson was under fire from the enemy 280mm guns.
Communications were established with spiral-four cable from Lucky to Etain to Lucky Baker switchboard at Foug, where communications had already been established to Nancy. Thus were two Alternate lines to the advance Army CP at Nancy; one through Lucky Baker, and the other through Arnaville Test on the XII Corps cables.
(Third Army Location: Nancy, 11 Oct 44 -23 Dec 44)
(57 miles from Etain)
One platoon of Company B had moved to Nancy on September 27, and was attached to XII Corps. They Placed ten spiral-four cables on two No. 9 iron wires from the Nancy West wire head to Lucky Advance in the center of the city, and also to the radio link. Communications were established with XV Corps on the right flank and XX Corps on the left by means of spiral-four cable. Open wire along the railroad was rehabilitated from Nancy east to Moncel; this lead was in very poor condition, and required almost total replacement of the wire, as well as numerous poles. Due to the static tactical condition at this time, the platoon moved to Pont-a-Mousson (about October 20) to join the Battalion Headquarters. Company B's second platoon had remained at Etain after the Army's displacement to pick up wire and to maintain communications in that area. The second platoon of Company A moved from Pont-a-Mousson to Joeuf, near Briey, at this time, and the remainder of the company stayed with Battalion Headquarters at Pont-a-Mousson.
During the long stay of Third Army in the Nancy area a very elaborate communications system was setup. Such an elaborate system was never contemplated during training. The 33rd operated a switching central (Lone star Switch) at Pont-a-Mousson during this period.
Company A's platoon at Joeuf constructed Third Army's first BMAL (British Multi-Air Line) lead in France, from Conflans to Briey. In spite of there inexperience with this type of construction, the lead was quickly finished, and gave very little trouble.
Company B added a second arm on an existing Army pole line from Hannoville(near Mars la Tour) to Couflans; Company A extended this second arm north to Fleville, and from there built new pole line to Thionville. The mud situation was at its worst at this time. The line was not built along roads, therefore some sections of it became impassable to trucks because of the mud. One platoon managed to borrow a "Weasel" (personnel and cargo carrier M-29-C) from another unit, and later these vehicles were issued to both construction companies. They were extremely useful in hauling materials along the line, and also for pulling wire.
On November 8, Battalion Headquarters and part of Company A moved to Tucquegnieux, northwest of Briey. From here work was continued on the Fleville-Thionville open wire lead. Meanwhile one platoon of Company B was again attached to XII Corps. At this time Company B had six teams and six NCO's of the first three grades operating wire heads: Lucky Command, Lucky Baker and Lucky Charley. Another signal unit had completed an open wire lead from Nancy to Moncel, and our crews extended this line with spiral-four to Chateau Salins for the next Corps move. The cable was laid along a main supply route which was very narrow and had heavy traffic. For additional circuits, rehabilitation of the French open wire was continued from Moncel to Chateau Salins.
This platoon moved to Chateau Salins on November 14 and started establishing two alternate routes of communication to Morhange; one on spiral-four up the main road, and the other on rehabilitated French open wire along the railroad to Conthil,
and then to Morhange on spiral-four cable. Open wire circuits on the Army axis were being pushed forward, and as sections were completed they were put into operation in lieu of the spiral-four cable. This not only improved transmission, but also released the cable for further use.
XII Corps moved to Morhange, and the Corps axis was extended with spiral-four to Sarralbe. Two groups of open wire along the railroad were also made good to this point. Near Morhange one of our trunks struck a mine and was completely destroyed. Two men were slightly injured. Spiral-four cable was laid from St. Avold to Sarralbe. When Corps displaced to Sarralbe the axis was further extended be rehabilitating open wire to a road junction two miles east of Sarreguemines. Spiral-four was also placed from Sarreguemines to Merlebach, northeast of St. Avold.
The first platoon of Company A moved from Tucquegnieux to Basse Yutz, a suburb of Thionville, on November 24. On December 1 the second platoon also moved to Basse Yutz, and Company A began extending the open wire construction from Thionville to Bouzonville. This lead was built through a heavily mined area. Personnel were obtained from the 88th and 179th Engineer Battalions to clear the right-of-way of mines. The second platoon was assigned to work from Bouzonville, and moved there December 8. This job was finished on December 20. Spiral-four was placed from Bouzonville to Ittersdorf, Germany.
On December 1, Battalion Headquarters moved to Pont-a-Chaussy, east of Metz, and was joined there by the first platoon of Company B. This platoon laid spiral-four cable from Conflans through Metz to Courcelles Chaussy. At this time three forts were still holding out in Metz, and great care had to be taken to prevent contact with the enemy. Roads were heavily mined, and these forts commanded most roads leading into Metz. They completed this job and then extended the cable on to St. Avold.
At this time Third Army moved north to join in the Battle of the Bulge, thus ending the Campaign of France.
OPERATIONS OF COMPANY "A" WITH XX CORPS
(21 Aug 44 - 8 Sep 44)
On August 21 Company A left the Battalion bivouac near Nogent le Rotrou to move with the Battalion to the vicinity of Brou. Upon arriving at the new bivouac the company was instructed to report to XX Corps. At that time the Corps was located at Oysonville (near Etampes); Company A established a bivouac at Chalou. From this time through the remainder of the "big push", the principal mission of the company was to extend Corps communication along the proposed Army axis. Between August 21 and September 1 the company occupied six different bivouac areas; Chalou, Nilly, Fontainebleau, Donnemarie, Montmirail, Louvious, and Chaudefontaine (near St. Menehould). During all of these moves the company kept XX Corps in communication with Army and continued pushing the axis forward with spiral-four cable. At Fontainebleau it was necessary to establish alternate routes across the Seine on two different bridges.
These rapid moves made the supply situation extremely difficult, as only two trucks were available for hauling signal supplies. In addition to hauling supplies from the Signal Depot, these trucks had to shuttle the materials from area to area. With this shortage of transportation, on occasions we were required to have men in three different areas guarding supplies.
On September 1, upon reaching the area near St. Menehould, the company was halted for lack of gasoline, and for a few days was unable to do any line work other than necessary maintenance. The gasoline shortage was so acute that even for necessary maintenance only ¼ ton trucks were used. After the gasoline shortage had been somewhat alleviated a German military lead was rehabilitated from St. Menehould to Verdun to provide communications to the New Corps location. On September 5 the company moved to Regret, near Verdun, and the next day Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters company moved into the same area. The French open wire lead along the railroad from Verdun to Jarny was made good to furnish circuits to the general area where XX Corps expected to move. Corps Headquarters moved to the vicinity of Mars la Tour, and tapped on to the underground cable for circuits back to Verdun. At the same time Headquarters and Company A moved to a bivouac area between Mars la Tour and Jarny. Company A immediately started rehabilitation of the Mars la Tour-Jarny open wire lead to provide an alternative circuit to XX Corps. At this time the siege of Metz had halted the progress of the Third Army, and XX Corps was closer to Army Headquarters then they had been at any time since Normandy.
DETACHMENT WITH VIII CORPS (14 July 44-15 Sept 44)
One officer and 34 enlisted men (four crews) from Company B were dispatched to VIII Corps on July 14, equipped with two line trucks (K-43), to 2 ½ ton 6x6 trucks, and one ¼ ton truck. Their mission was to maintain communications between the Corps and First Army, and they joined the Corps in a bivouac area near La Haye do Puits, being attached to Company C, 59th Signal Battalion. Communication to First Army had already been established by a First Army unit, using an open wire lead from La Haye to St. Sauveur le Vitcomte to Chef du Pont and thence along a railroad to Carentan, and the detachment's original job was to maintain this line. When the breakthrough was made at Lessay, Corps moved to the vicinity of Geffosses (15 miles); the detachment provided communications from the old CP with spiral-four cable. The next day, August 1, the Corps moved to St. Sauveur le Pesnel (23 miles), to which spiral-four was also laid. At this time VIII Corps was under the control of Third Army. Again on August 4, Corps Headquarters moved to Sartilly, and the detachment laid spiral-four cable back to meet crews from the 34th Signal Construction Battalion who were bringing cable up from the old location. At this time the detachment's two cargo trucks were used by the Corps Signal Section to haul cable, and when they returned they immediately started laying cable to Vergoncy (near St. James), where Corps moved August 7. There was only one route to lay the cable through Avraches, and consequently the line was bombed out so frequently that it was necessary to bivouac teams along the line to keep communication in. On August 9 the detachment moved with Corps Headquarters to Miniac Moran (25 miles), and lead spiral-four cable to St. James; from there it was extended and maintained to Third Army by the 33rd Signal Construction Battalion. Our detachment also rehabilitated a German open wire lead form Miniac Moran to Alabama Switch in Avrances, where it could be switched through Eagle (Twelfth Army Groups) to Lucky as an alternate route. At the fall of St. Malo VIII Corps was to move to the vicinity of Brest. Realizing that the distance was too great to be bridged with spiral-four, the detachment commander reported to Army Headquarters for instructions. He was instructed that the detachment would remain with VIII Corps, but wire communications with Army would be suspended temporarily. The detachment accompanied Corps Headquarters to Ploudaniel and was placed at the disposal of the Corps Signal Officer. There they rehabilitated and maintained a German open wire lead to the outskirts of Brest, reconnoitered existing facilities on the Crozen Peninsula, and patrolled and maintained lines in the vicinity of Corps Headquarters.
Thirty-four men proved in sufficient to furnish communication between a moving Corps and Army. The detachment was at a decided disadvantage due to lack of supply personnel, and the same trucks used in laying lines were required for hauling materials from the depts. In one instance a Quartermaster unit was provided to haul cable to the detachment.
During the entire month of operations with VIII Corps there was not a single case of illness or injury among the men. The detachment rejoined Company B at Braquis, near Etain, on September 15.
DETACHMENT WITH XV CORPS (3 Aug 44-20 Aug 44).
One officer and four teams from Company A were dispatched to XV Corps on August 3, and joined Corps Headquarters at Duce. They immediately placed spiral-four cable to Nattel on the proposed Corps axis. However, Corps did not move there, so they started placing cable from Fougeres south. Corps moved to Port Brilot, near St. Ouen, and the cable was extended to this point.
The detachment aided the 92nd Signal Battalion in placing cable to the next Corps CP at St. Jean, and immediately started laying cable from St. Denis east along the Corps axis. This line was completed through Le Mans to Savigne (28 miles). Enemy snipers were active in Le Mans at this time.
After Corps' move to Savigne, the detachment placed spiral-four from Ballon to Louvigny (12 miles), where it tapped on to an existing open wire lead. This lead was rehabilitated from Louvigny to Valtrambe, to which point Corps then moved. Corps continued on to a point west of Paris with the axis being extended by this detachment and the 92nd Signal Battalion.
This detachment was definitely too small for the work to be done with Corps. It was necessary for them to travel great distances to obtain spiral-four cable, the Corps Signal Supply did not stock it. The distance between Corps and Army was frequently too great to insure a talking circuit with the use of carrier.
The detachment rejoined Company A at Nogent le Routrou on August 20.