The following is a short memory of the
Crozon fighting from Ed Baxter
radioman of L Company 28th Infantry.
He just sent it to me and I thought you all might enjoy
I don't know exactly where we were or the time when situations led to
the following. I remember it was farm land and a farm road curved its
way up this hill. All day we were receiving sporadic small arms and
artillery fire and found ourselves along the top of the hill and
could look around at rolling terrain.
The hedgerows here were low for a change. Along this farm road is
where my buddy Pfc Arthur Byrd also a radio operator and myself
thought our time had come, we were keeping low along the road when we
heard the shell coming. I could tell by the sound, that shell really
had my name on it. There was a slight depression along the side of
the road and we stretched out into it I was in front. Our bodies were
still half exposed because the so called ditch wasn't near deep
enough. I actually thought this one's for me causing the strangest
feeling of absolute helplessness and I knew this was my last moment
alive. The shell exploded in the road maybe six feet away but even
with me. It's odd that I have no recollection what happened to the
others, only to Byrd and myself.
When I realized I wasn't hurt, I looked back at Byrd who hadn't
moved. I yelled Byrd two or three times pretty loud and when nothing
happened I kicked his helmet, still no movement after a few moments
longer he finally raised his head, face was covered with dirt but he
was ok. The shell fragments went passed us but my ears have been
ringing slightly ever since.
These low hedgerows were the first I had seen anywhere in France and
for the first time we really had to hunker way down to keep from
getting hit by small arms fire or artillery which, a little later
that afternoon, played havoc with what little hedgerow we did have.
The noncoms were scarce and I can't remember where my buddy Byrd was,
I didn't see him again until later.
Someone in command picked Pfc. Grey and me also a Pfc. to go back
down the hill to a dump, which wasn't a bit healthy and bring back
some telephone wire. We started out and made a few detours because of
the shelling and continued on down hill until we stopped at a large
haystack which was hollowed out somewhat and was being used as a
temporary Command Post, the men there were using field phones. We
stopped to rest and talk to the guys in and around the haystack. I
can still see that haystack unto this day.
After a few minutes Grey and I continued on down the hill and met a
couple of fellows in process of carrying wire up the hill. We decided
as long as we were here we would go on down and bring back as much 30-
06 ammo in bandoleers as we could carry, German artillery wasn't as
bad here as on the top. Along the way we ran into one real high
hedgerow we had to go over. After that we ran across an open stretch
of pasture at full speed because enemy mortar shells were dropping
around us. One hit on my right maybe 15 to 20 ft away and the
fragments missed me but a splinter hit Grey's ankle.
We stopped at a small stone farm structure with a tile roof and gave
Grey's ankle an inspection. We found the shell fragment barely
penetrated the shoe and leggings but did leave a good red spot. We
sat there until a shell hit the corner of the small building turning
the tile into dust. We zoomed out of there and finally found the
dump. After a smoke or two we loaded ourselves down with ammo and
started back up the hill. It was as exciting going back as it was
coming down seeing the vegetation being clipped along the top of the
high hedgerow we had to go back over. We knew we had to get over that
thing and both of us had extra long legs and we put'em too good use.
I went back far enough to get a good running start such as it was,
being weighted down with ammo, and dove over. I made it just fine but
landed in a bunch of stinging nettles.
I was wounded a few days later, on Sept. 16th 1944, and took all
those nettles with me back to England and I'm not lying or kidding,
and some held on clear back to the States. I picked them out of my
knees and legs for what seemed like months and I still had'em after I
made it home for Christmas 1944.
To pick up the story of going back up the hill, we made it back to
the haystack CP and saw that a mortar shell had hit it and had caused
several serious casualties. A medic or two was already there doing
what they could. Gray and I looked at each other, thinking we had sat
down there for a break only a short time ago. When we made it back to
our platoon still on the hilltop where we found them behind more
short hedgerows but on the opposite side of the road.
Someone pointed out to us to look where we left them, the low
hedgerows on the right side of the road were practically blown away.
The rest of the day was spent hunkered down behind the low hedgerows.
I remember the Germans were occasionally using a machine gun to clip
the vegetation along the top of these also. I still see this as
We had to eat good old K-rations that day and night too, and the next
I guess. I can't remember the next day, but we probably took time to
smoke cigarettes called Chelsea that were in our K-rations. K-rations
were named after the man who invented them as he had a last name
starting with K. Sometime my K- rations were made in my home town
Chattanooga. One night weeks before the above incidents took place
about the time I joined the company, 2nd Lt. Bill Jernigan our
Company Commander said, Baxter the password tonight is Chelsey-France
two things we hate. Every night the password was changed and you had
better remember it.
One night and another story, one of our men either couldn't remember
the password or he didn't return it fast enough was shot by another
soldier on guard duty, this was in the black of night. That was bad
but it did happen, I wasn't in that area that night. I would have
been but I was sent out to a listening post, much to my dismay, in
the middle of a field soon after dark. I had been there only a very
few minutes when a burst of German artillery fire came by me so close
I do believe I could have touched one or two and I was terrified. The
next day I went to inspect the slit trench I had dug to sleep in that
night behind a very heavy stone wall. I found it all right,
completely crushed with stone because one of the shells had hit the
wall exactly above my spot. Like I said, that's another story..
Thinking back today I'm sure we had to negotiate the high hedgerow
first Time coming down the hill. The haystack was on beyond the
hedgerow closer to the dump and the hill was beginning to level out.
I think one or two guys were killed at the haystack.
Edward L. Baxter Jan. 25, 2005