Every war hasa "Lost Battalion" and a famous Hill where a terrible battle raged. In France it was Hill 314 occupied by the 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division. This battalion had been surrounded for five days.
The Krauts hit Hill 314 with everything they had, from tanks to bicycle troops. It was not a simple matter of bypassing the hill. American artillery observers on the hill were calling up P-47s and British Typhoons whenever they saw German tanks on the road.
Strategically this "Lost Battalion" kept the Germans from moving west to the coast of France during August 1944.
But the Americans became desperate. No food, ammunition running low, no medical supplies, and dying radio batteries. They were "between a rock and a hard spot", as we said in those days.
737th Tank Battalion
Our story is about another group of men with raw courage, dog-faces in the 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. They cut through the German defenses and rescued the "Lost Battalion" while supported by the 737th Tank Battalion.
This web site is dedicated to the heroic men of 737 including our partial listing of the participants at Mortain. Some of these individuals are alive today and attend the battalions annual reunions. For its action the unit received the Presidential Unit Citation from Harry Truman and the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star from the French Government.
If you like to deal in numbers, some 300 of the 700 men in the "Lost Battalion" were killed or wounded. Our tankers lost 13 of the 38 medium tanks deployed -- by the time they reached their objective (about 4200 yards from the line of departure). It was tragic. Read on. You wont find a story like this one written by major historians (who werent there). Ask Kilroy.
A complete description of the infantry-tank action will appear in a forthcoming book about Mortain, written by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Reardon, US Army (formerly the Executive Officer of an airborne tank battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division). He has graciously allowed your webmaster to abstract and rewrite a few passages of interest to tankers, their relatives, and friends.
[situation text to be added soon]
737 moved up this narrow road
to its objective
fighting German 88mm antitank guns
for about 4200 yards
Lieutenant Fred Cottriel
who received a battlefield commission
was a platoon sergeant (S/Sgt) at Mortain
he recently told me
we traded those guys tank for antitank gun
all the way down that narrow road
best gun of the war
the German 88mm was their main air defense
it could fire approximately twenty 20-pound shells a minute
when used as an antitank gun
it could knock out Allied tanks at 2000 yards
it had a wonderful optical sight system
actions of the
lost (2nd) battalion
30th Infantry Division
be ignored by
the tank-infantry team
that came to their rescue
3848 Southeast Division Street
Portland, OR 97202-1641
discussion of the lost battalion]
[will be added in the near future]