Serial 9

Most of Major Bill Boyle's Battalion was scattered over an area 30 to 40 miles square west, northwest, and southwest of Trans-en-Provence. Battalion Headquarters Company made the best landing, relatively well-concentrated in wooded hills southeast of Trans. By daylight Lieutenant Erie Ehly had assembled more than half his company. Joined by Captain La Chaussee of C Company, the group moved east along the road to the Battalion assembly area, with more men coming steadily.

At a crossroads near the assembly area two Germans of the "Organization Todt" Labor Service opened fire upon the column with a Maxim water-cooled machine gun. After a brief exchange of fire, the Germans surrendered and the group closed in the assembly area. Soon Lieutenant James Reith * arrived with fifty to sixty men of A Company, followed by Lieutenant Dan Cook with a stick of C Company. Other small groups and individuals came in, but there was no sign of the main body of the Battalion. After a half-hour La Chaussee and Ehly decided to move on to their objective. Gathering more men as they moved, they headed south, passing the Chateau Ste Roseline on their right. While crossing Highway N7 a small enemy detachment offered a brief argument which was quickly settled by Sergeant Chobot of A Company with a few riflemen. At this point Major Bowlby, Battalion executive officer, arrived and took command. At 1130 the 1st Battalion had a force of about 150 men upon its objective.

As other groups of 1st Battalion men drifted in from the west they were pressed into service by Captain Fraser (whose A Company had been designated Regimental Reserve) to fill the gap left by the absence of the 3rd Battalion on the hills west of Ste Roseline. All these groups told essentially the same story: landing 2 to 6 miles (or more) from the DZ, recovering what equipment they could find, and a rugged cross-country trip enlivened by brushes with the enemy.

Company B had the unhappy distinction of being the most widely-dispersed unit of the entire 517th CT. Acting Company Commander Lieutenant Hillsdale landed with his stick two and one-half miles northwest of Lorgues, while Company executive Lieutenant Terry Sanford dropped with his men five miles northeast of the DZ, fifteen miles from Hillsdale.

Hillsdale and his men went through a virtual odyssey in trying to get to their objective. At Lorgues they dropped off an injured man at a local hospital. Continuing southeast, they heard heavy fire at Les Arcs and decided to back off and go around by the north. That used up all of D-Day. Next morning as they began to move out they were strafed by an American plane. On the way to Draguignan, Hillsdale putout two small patrols, one of which became lost. then the group encountered two German trucks with an officer and some wounded, which they sent under guard to Lorgues. Moving southeast through Trans, Hillside and his men contacted the 551st and finally made it to Ste Roseline an hour before midnight on D/1.

Lieutenant Reardon's planeload landed two and one-half miles southwest of Draguignan. Assembling all 16 men, Reardon moved through Trans toward the objective. At 1240 they ran into a German force on Highway N7, killing 5; a few minutes later they ambushed two cars and a motorcycle, killing 6 and capturing one prisoner . After some indecision Reardon's group set up a roadblock on N7 and remained there, becoming one of the most effective units in the entire Combat Team.

Lieutenant Sanford's stick northeast of the DZ met General Frederick and a group from Task Force Headquarters. After a stint of outpost duty and looking for lost men, Sanford and his group moved south, joining Reardon on N7. Lieutenant Sanford took command of the roadblock force.

Northwest of Trans-en-Provence Captain Louis Vogel managed to assemble two guns and three-quarters of his C Battery. Keeping to the road because the guns had to be hand-towed, they met a group of forty 1st Battalion infantrymen under Lieutenant Ralph Allison. Three hundred yards from Trans the mixed group came under enemy fire; two artillerymen were killed trying to rush the German position. Allison, supported by a point-blank 75mm fire, circled around with a 5-man patrol and entered the town. Four Germans were killed and the rest withdrew. The group resumed the march, passing through Trans without further incident. Vogel's battery (now grown to three guns) joined its parent battalion and Allison continued on to Ste Roseline.

Chateau Ste Roseline is a group of ancient, ivy-covered masonry buildings a mile southwest of the Drop Zone. It is surrounded by several hundred acres of vineyards. Some of the buildings date back to medieval times. The mummified remains of fourteenth-century Roseline of Villeneuve are preserved in a nearby Abbey. Prior to the airborne landing Ste Roseline had been selected for the Combat Team Command Post because it was centrally-located, prominent landmark. Its owner, the Baron de Rasque de Laval, gladly provided the 517th all the space needed.

Major Paul Vella, a Combat Team surgeon and a group of medical personnel from the 676th Medical Collecting Company, set up a relief station in the Monastery Cloister. The wounded arrive more and more, but without means of transport and without knowing where to go, they can not be evacuated.

Northeast of the DZ, Lieutenant Sandford's stick meets General Frederick and a group of Task Force officers. After going to the forefront to look for lost men, Sanford and his group go south, joining Reardon on the N7. Lieutenant Sandford is in charge of this whole group. By darkness of D-Day the 1st Battalion had 45 to 90 men with Major Boyle at Les Arcs, about 200 under Major Bowlby in the objective area, and most of the balance of well over 200 with Captain Fraser's reserve force west of Ste Roseline.

The rallying point is between Les Arcs and La Motte, in the middle of a large vineyard, Sainte Roseline is the Command Post and the aid station of the regiment.

From the 16th, the actions resumed with the difficult attack of the village of Les Arcs - (removed thanks to the shelling of the 460th PFAB and the 83rd Chemical Battalion) - and the Muy, held by a garrison of 500 men.

Day D+1 at 14 hours, a jeep of recognition of the 45th Infantry Division arrives at the castle Sainte-Roseline, it is the first contact with the troops come from the sea for the 517th PRCT.

The capture of Draguignan by the 551st, which seized Generalmajor Bieringer's FK800, announced the end of German resistance in the Var area. Thus, from 17, the 517th managed to regroup at Château Sainte-Roseline, and to taste a short rest before moving on Puget-sur-Argens.