C Company 357 Infantry, 90th Division
I landed on D+2 at Utah Beach, Normandy, France
as a replacement for Company " C " 357 Inf. 90th Division.
I fought as a rifleman from June 8, 1944 to Jan. 13, 1945, without
being wounded. Any infantryman, who landed in Normandy, France on
June 06, 07, 08. or 09,1944, saw plenty of combat action against
An infantryman had to fire his weapon, whether it was a M1 rifle,
BAR, or machine gun, at the enemy. He also had to throw hand grenades
from behind one hedge, to where the enemy was taking cover, behind
another hedge. At the same time he has to seek cover behind a hedge,
all the while, he is being fired upon by the enemy with rifle fire,
concussion grenades, machine gun fire, motor shells, and artillery.
He has to pray, that he is not wounded or killed. He has to relieve
himself often, (pee). When darkness falls, he has to dig a fox hole,
and open a can of "C" or "K" rations, then if
he has a buddy near him, they take turns on guard, one sleeps 2
hours and then the other one, wakes him, and then he sleeps, 2 hours.
This is to be sure that the enemy doesn't counter attack, and catch
us both asleep. If the enemy doesn't attack during the night, then
we have to attack. Some days we may take one or two rows and some
days we take none, other days we have to fall back.
This hedgerow fighting went on for over a month until we finally
broke out of the hedgerows. It was a great relief to be able to
ride atop a Patton Tank until we met resistance again. Then it was
back to fighting and digging foxholes again. General Patton was
our commander. We hated him because he made us continue to chase
the enemy, after we broke out of the hedgerows. We were tired. Then
our Sherman Tanks ran out of gas, and we had to park them in open
This is when the enemy observers saw us and they zeroed in on us,
and we were clobbered. After that we all loved General Patton and
think that He was the Greatest General we ever had.
We had just broken through the hedgerows of Normandy and were traveling
fast and meeting no resistance. We entered the town of St Susanne
and settled down for the night. My sergeant told me to stand in
the middle of the road because "B" Co was coming through
and I was to tell them to go to the left, at the fork in the road
about 50 yards up the road.
It was about midnight and I heard a truck coming and soon saw it
approaching me. I said "HALT" and jumped onto the running
board, I asked "B" CO, and heard the driver say "VAS
IS". I realized then that they were Germans.I jumped off the
running board and started to run toward the buildings, yelling "JERRY"S'
JERRY'S. My squad opened fire on the truck as it started to move
forward. It went about 20 feet and stopped. We counted nine soldiers
in the back of the truck and three in the front seat. All were dead
On January 13, 1945 I was removed from the front lines for the second
time with trench foot (frozen feet). I was in the First Aid Tent
waiting to be sent back to the hospital when word came through that
the Germans were counter-attacking. All the wounded that could fire
a rifle were loaded on trucks.
They wrapped my feet in a blanket and put me in the truck. They
drove us as close as possible to the front and unloaded us. They
told us that they expected the Germans to try to break out at this
point and we were to hold our positions at all costs. Here are a
bunch of wounded soldiers along with cooks, bakers, MP's and whoever
else they could find.
The Germans hit us hard and tried to break through our lines, but
we held on, it was like shooting ducks in a shooting gallery, we
shot so many of them that they finally surrendered. We took many,
many, prisoners. We later found out that this was called the "Falaise
Gap" that we protected.
I was picked up and carried to a truck and brought back to the Aid
Station. The soldier next to me looked at me and said "Rocky".
He was my best friend! We grew up next door to each other. We had
gone through school together and graduated from PORTLAND HIGH SCHOOL
in 1942. I asked him where he was wounded and he said that he had
frozen feet. We rode together in the ambulance to Verdun, France.
There we both were shipped to England. He went to a different hospital
than me. I never saw him again until he arrived home in 1946. His
name was Reginald Papi and he passed away on September 30, 1974.
I received battle credits for Normandy, Nothern France, Rhineland,
Ardennes. I entered the army as a private, made pfc, when I left
the States, received a battle field promotation to s/sgt. (Later
found out that my promotional papers never reached battalion head
quarters, so I was still a pfc). At discharged time I was discharged
as a private. At the time of discharge I believe that I was one
of the earliest discharged under the point system.
So you see, I entered the army as a private, and was discharged
as a private, despite making pfc. and staff sergeant. I served from
November 1943 to November 1945. So you see if you were in the infantry
during WWII you had to get a shafting. The rear headquarters people
never knew what was going on at the front.
Rocco N. Gedaro
This is picture of a piece of shrapnel (shown in comparison to a
dime) that embedded itself in my water canteen in the hedgerows
of Normandy, France.
I reached for a drink of water, during a lull in the shelling and
heard this rattling noise in my canteen. It was this piece of shrapnel.
It is from a German artillery 88 howitzer.
This happened about June 10,1944.
You will notice how sharp the edges are. When a shell lands, it
explodes into all these small pieces of very hot steel, that scatter
all over and if they hit you, they tear a bad wound in your body.
This is what injures or kills soldiers and civilians. I was very
lucky that it hit my canteen and stopped in it. If it had hit a
little lower or higher, I would have been seriously injured or killed.
I carried this piece of shrapnel in my pocket throughout the war
and keep it as a souvenir.