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Cole Monument
Cole Monument

The survivors of the 3rd Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Regiment of the 101st Airborne led a bayonet assault against the German command post entrenched in the Ingouf Farm from this location. For this deed, Lieutenant Colonel Robert G Cole will be decorated with the highest American military award the Medal Of Honor.

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From this spot at dawn on Sunday June 11, 1944, the survivors of the 3rd Battalion of the 502° Parachute Regiment of the 101' Airborne led a bayonet assault against the command post of the German paratroopers entrenched in the Ingouf farm. For this dazzling action, Lieutenant Colonel Robert G Cole, commander of the battalion, was awarded the highest military distinction of the United States of America, the Medal of Honor.

On the evening of June 8, 1944
The 101st Airborne Division completed all the missions assigned to it on D-Day. On June 9, the 101st Airborne was ordered to take Carentan in order to link up the bridgeheads of the V and VII US Corps landed at Omaha and Utah Beach.
Air patrols seemed to indicate that Carentan was only lightly defended, and a plan to encircle the town was decided, with the 502nd PIR on the right, and the 327th from Brévandson the left. The Lieutenant Colonel Robert G. Cole, commanding the 3rd Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment was given the mission at 9 p.m. on Friday June 9, to attack along the only practicable route through the heart of the flooded marshes, Route Nationale 13 linking Carentan to Saint Côme du Mont to the north, with its four bridges to cross. The 3/502 had to bypass Carentan to the west and seize the heights (hill 30) at La Billonnerie to the south of the town.

Bridge no. 2, which spans the Douve river after the place known as les ponts d'Ouve, has been destroyed by the Germans. On the evening of June 9, the Engineers of the 326h AEB were entrusted with the mission of making a temporary crossing. Shortly after zero hour on June 10, Lt Ralph B. Gehauf (Intelligence Officer of 3/502) and 9 soldiers lead a reconnaissance along RN 13. They crossed the 4 bridges from the Ouve bridges to Carentan. No enemy reaction is triggered.

June 10, 1944

At 4 a.m. on Saturday June 10, 3/502 arrives in front of bridge N°2. It has still not been repaired and the Engineers refuse to intervene under fire from the 88s. The assault is postponed and the battalion returns to Les Quesnils. Gehauf, still beyond bridge N°4 and seeing nothing coming, also headed back to Les Quesnils at 5:30 a.m., but not without triggering a virulent enemy response. It wasn't until around 2 p.m. on Saturday June 10 that Cole himself, with the help of a few soldiers, set up a rope and plank bridge over bridge N°2. At 1 p.m. on Saturday June 10, the 3/502nd PIR resumed its advance.
At 3 p.m., Company G led by Lt Clements crossed this provisional N52 bridge in single file and began the perilous progression across the roadway covered by German fire. An hour later, Clements and his men were at bridge N°4.
At 6 p.m., the whole battalion, some 700 men, is stretched out from the Ouve bridge to bridge N°4 on the Madeleine. The men are subjected to incessant machine-gun fire scattered on either side of the causeway, as well as artillery and mortar fire. The troopers are totally exposed, with no possibility even of burying themselves.

At 11:30 p.m. on this Saturday, June 10, the entire 3/502 encumbers the roadway near Bridge N°4 over the Madeleine, It's then that one or two Luftwaffe aircraft appear and drop their bombs on the Item company caught out in the open on the roadway. The aircraft then returned for a thorough strafing. I/502 deplores 30 casualties.

The 3rd Battalion continues its effort, crossing the Groult(bridge N'3) and reaching bridge n°4 over the La Madeleine river. The Germans have blocked the road at this point by placing a "Belgian gate" across the small bridge. The troopers could only squeeze through one by one, under machine-gun fire. Companies G and H, and part of HQ/3rd follow compagnie I through this mousehole, and the soldiers rush for refuge in the ditches on either side of the Carentan road.

June 11, 1944

Beyond the last bridge N°4 is a large open field. The ferme Ingouf serves as a command post for German paratroopers. The hedgerows on the south side of the field have been landscaped by the Germans, who have built trenches and pillboxes. At 3:30 a.m. on Sunday June 11, Captain Cecil Simmons and his 84 men and officers of H Company set out to cross Bridge No. 4 and deploy along the Pommenauque road, in the hedgerows and ditches. G Company follows with -only 60 men.

The HQ/3rd Battalion has 121 troopers.

At 4:30 a.m., it's the HQ company's turn to infiltrate through the gates blocking Bridge No. 4 to deploy there opposite the Ingouf farm. Cole requests artillery support from his spotter Captain Rosemead, in connection with the 377th Field Artillery Battalion, 90th Battalion and 65th Armored Field Artillery. Shells are raining down around the Ingouf farmhouse, though they do nothing to ease the German fire. At 6.15 a.m., Cole called for a smoke barrage, informing the few men around him of his intention to take advantage of the smoke screen to charge the farm Ingouf with the baïonnette. At his whistle, only about twenty men who had perceived the order amid the tumult and din of German gunfire rose to their feet and followed him. John Stopka, his Executive Officer, relays the order and rushes off, followed by some fifty men from companies H,G and HQ. Cole's radio operator, were among them.

Cole Monument
Cole Monument.

Cole Monument

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