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NORMANDY DUG UP GROUPING (HILL 108 ST-LO)


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#1 yannick

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 08:51 AM

Hi!

Well, those dug up researches were made in June 2006 North of Saint Lô. The area is wellknown in military and history books as Hill 108 or "Purple Heart hill". It's a place of tough fighting between the 1st Bn 175th and the Germans during the advance on Saint Lô after D-Day. I've ever posted on USMF about the result of some researches in that area.

Historical context: After one week of advance threw the bocage from the landing beach of Omaha, the 1/175th is the most advanced US unit inland and is just a few miles North from the town of St Lô, the 29th division objective. The Germans who are trying to stop the advance just don't know exactly where are the US troops when they discover that they are just a few hundred yards near le Mesnil Rouxelin where the 352nd German infantry division has its CP. the US forces don't know about the German CP and are just advancing cautiously when the Germans launch their counterattack, concentrating all their forces in that small area.

This is June 17th 1944 and the most advanced unit is C Company. The action following will mark the stop of the american advance to Saint Lô and the front will be stabilized there during one month.

After 3 days of fighting the 1st Bn 175th will count more than 300 losses, KIA WIA and MIA. But the soldiers have maintained their positions in that small front, repelling many counterattacks from three sides, living three days under artillery and mortar fire without artillery support...

The US artillery will fire against the Germans at the moment they launch a massive counterattack with a few tanks. the effect is to stop the German assault at the worst moment for the GI's.


the 1/175th will receive the prestigious Distinguished Unit Citation for its action on hill 108.


So back to the old battlefield. On the steps of PFC George F. SCHNEIDER C/175TH WIA ON HILL 108 June 17th 1944.

1947 aerial photo os the place of action. Shown here is only the action that took place against C co.

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While digging along hedgerows, trying to find traces of the fighting, we go to one of those fields where we had found a 29er NCO helmet three months before. A few steps from the spot where we found the helmet, my friend Rico stops and begins to dig. After a few minutes he calls me. he has just found what looks like a m1 ammo belt with clips, buckles, buttons... I and the other friends come to see when he finds a small pocket knife that looked attached to the belt. Nice find, but a few seconds after he shouts: Hey! there is a dog tag!!. It begins to be more serious...

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Yannick

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#2 yannick

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:05 AM

a few minutes after the dog tag find, we find what look like a m1 bayonet!!

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Amazing find as the name GEO SCHNEIDER is engraved on the scabbard which has received camo painting! Amazing in 29th area!


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what we found in the hole:

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#3 Johan Willaert

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:10 AM

A l'aise Breizh http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#4 Brian Keith

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:13 AM

I hope George is not still there.
BKW

#5 yannick

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:15 AM

Cleaning time at home and a new surprise from a friend in UK who was with us in the field...

At home I went to my 175th reports and other documentation and found that Geo Schneider is listed as WIA june 17th 1944. I also found that he served in C company and the book confirms he was from Baltimore MD.


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The pocket insignia has the US Scout insignia! http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/w00t.gif Nice find on a WWII battlefield!

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And here is the photo I received from Steve two days after the find in the field...

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#6 Johan Willaert

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:32 AM

Yannick,

That friend would be Steve W?

#7 yannick

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:01 AM

Well, one year after this amazing battlefield finding... Last June 2007 in saint Lô I had the pleasure to be invited to join a group of three 29th vets. At St Lô during our meeting, one is presented to me by Steve W. (Yes Johan ;) ) who is also here. His name is William Doyle, 92 from Baltimore. Doyle was Tech Sergent in C co 175th in the original company. Schneider served directly under him... And he was there when Schneider was wounded!!!!

I offered to drive him and the others to the place and this what we did the day after. it was a very emmotional experience for all people present in the field.

Here are the photos:

T/Sgt William S. Doyle C/175 (June 2007)

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In the field next to the place where Schneider was wounded

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Doyle explained that Schneider was wounded at the start of the fighting. Then the platoon deployed along the left flank to respond to the fire. Schneider probably left his gear where he was hit and then he managed to cross the open field still under fire and he was hit a second time!! Despite his second wound he crawled back to the rear and was sent to the aid station.

He survived the war and Doyle met him after WWII but they never spoke together about that day in the field. Schneider has since passed away.

Doyle sent me this new photo of Schneider in his Christmas card! a very nice present http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/w00t.gif

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Will write more about more findings in that area later...

Yannick

#8 Jim Baker

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:07 AM

Now this is cool stuff!

The find, the friend, the meeting, the photo. It doesn't get any better than this.

Did the bayonet clean up well enough to be removed from the scabbard?

#9 yannick

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:17 AM

The find, the friend, the meeting, the photo. It doesn't get any better than this.

Did the bayonet clean up well enough to be removed from the scabbard?


We left the bayonnet as found just cleaning it a little and stopping the rust. it's very difficult in that state of rust to remove the bayonet without making some dammages. I'll put here another one found in another 29th division battlefield of Brest to show you how those bayonets looks after 60 years intheir scabbards.

Yannick

#10 UPNATM

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:57 AM

Great story, great pics, great post.

Please post more when you can. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#11 Bugme

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 11:32 AM

Man, don't stop! You've got me hooked! This is the stuff that makes collecting such a blast! Thanks for sharing your dig with us, it's tremendous!

#12 Bart P

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 12:20 PM

Great story, great pics, great post.

Please post more when you can. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif


I can add nothing more... I'm absolutely stunned, Yannick! :blink:

grts
Bart

#13 jgawne

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 04:10 PM

Yeah, well show them the assault vest you dug up.... ;)

#14 gunbarrel

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 05:13 PM

Simply...FANTASTIC! Thanks for a great post http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#15 SteveR

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 05:30 PM

Great thread friend. Hope to see more like it.
Steve

#16 captaxe

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 06:06 PM

Unreal! What an amazing story. This is the kind of thing that drives me to log in multiple times daily!!

#17 Dirk

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 06:13 PM

Outstanding thread! http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#18 CNY Militaria

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 06:14 PM

Yea, this is great! Thanks for sharing!!

#19 General Apathy

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 11:56 PM

Hi Yannick, pleased to see the items that you dug up at the beginning of this post. Regarding the pocket knife you dug up with the boy scouts of America insignia on the side, I dug up an identical one on Utah beach 6th June 1974, thirty years to the day after the landings. on the same day I also found two lifebelts, rounds of .45 ammunition, and a couple of tins of rations.

Give my regards to Steve W, cheers ( Lewis )

#20 yannick

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:01 AM

Hi Yannick, pleased to see the items that you dug up at the beginning of this post. Regarding the pocket knife you dug up with the boy scouts of America insignia on the side, I dug up an identical one on Utah beach 6th June 1974, thirty years to the day after the landings. on the same day I also found two lifebelts, rounds of .45 ammunition, and a couple of tins of rations.

Give my regards to Steve W, cheers ( Lewis )


Thanks for all your very nice comments http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif They are warmly welcome!

Steve W. has worked for years on the battle of Hill 108. He has been in touch with many 1/175th veterans and has done a great job retracing their steps. We first met the day we found all that stuff. We had a Rendez Vous in Saint Lô before going to the field and I must tell we had a GREAT day together as if we could not expect to find all that stuff in that small area...

As promised here is the second find we made along that same hedgerow, a few minutes after finding Schneider's stuff.

So here's the story. When we were still under shock after the finding and still digging in the hole, Rico (who never waste his time in the field :lol: ) was detecting along the same hedge. So he came to us and told us he thought he had found an helmet. We all stopped digging and joined him in his search. of course, nobody could believe it was an helmet as the hedge had ever been detected by us, an according to the farmer the area had been searched by lots of battlefield diggers all over the years. We still don't know what has been found in the area by our predecessors! I would pay to know...

Some of you have ever seen the photos as some have been published in this forum a long time ago. This helmet is also shown in the new M1 helmet book from Tweedie and Hill 84!

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Amazingly, as if the helmet is completely rusty, we can see the white paint of a NCO tripe at the back of the shell!

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after living the dirt from the liner, we find what looks like a screwtype disk attached on the front eyelet... What is it? surprise!!

after removing some of the ground we also can see the helmet has received a bullet or a schrapnel!

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next post: Cleaning time :blink: !!

Yannick

#21 yannick

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:43 AM

Forgot the photo of the screwback insignia attached to the front eyelet

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We could not expect to find that kind of helmet on the battlefield.

the bullet or schrapnel has crossed the front of the helmet from part to part cutting the helmet liner insignia in two parts... The back of the liner is also broken by another shell fragment which came from down and did not cross the steel pot!!

Helmet liner is a rayon type, as often seen in the 29th division. The helmet and liner have both received a second painting. the color of the paint is "apple green" :blink: !! The liner insignia is not blue and grey, but kaki and white :blink: Same for the steel shell. The screwbak insignia attached to the eyelet: crossrifles from a collar disk :blink: !! many surprises!!! but also terrific and very emmotionnal battlefield relic!

Unfortunately, no ID on this helmet.

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impact of the scrapnel at the back of the liner...

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As you can imagine, this day in the field was just umbelievable!!

Yannick

#22 yannick

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:57 AM

And now photos of the first helmet found 3 months before, helmet found a few feets from Schneider's field gear. This was the first time we went to that field and my first dug up 29er (after 20 years of battlefield researches...

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Impact, again http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/crying.gif

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liner still inside, a rayon type

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living the liner from the shell and first surprise...

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Next photos of the cleaning while back home

Yannick

#23 yannick

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 03:43 AM

first cleaning with only a brush and water. at that time we only leave the ground from the helmet... What I can see then is that there are two or three very small white dots visible on the front (so there was a 29th insignia) and traces of a NCO white bar on the back of the shell. the side-frontal impact is very impressive. there is no ID visible on helmet and liner...


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And now after the second phase of cleaning with acid. the acid only attacks the rust.


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and last phase of the cleaning (with chirurgical instruments :lol: )

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According to William Doyle, Schneider was the only loss in that field during their engagement on June 17th. the US re-occupied the line on june 18th when Germans launched all their forces. Those helmets belong to the troops that fought here that day. The US forces left the hedge to go to the next hedge back where they maintained the line. The hedge where we found all that stuff became the no man's land for one month, only seing patrols from both sides during that time.

On the other side of the hedge we also found that German helmet with two bullet holes, a few feet from Schneider's stuff. needless to say this place was hell during those few days

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Yannick

#24 Bugme

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 05:18 AM

What more can I say but... Incredible!

#25 bobgee

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 05:37 AM

Fantastic work & posts, Yannick. Thank you for sharing!
Bobgee


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