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The Battle of Mortain

In August 1944, after the Normandy invasion of June and the subsequent breakout at St. Lo in July, the German High Command was prepared for a massive counter-offensive in an attempt to throw the Allied Armies back into the sea. Hitler and his generals moved massive amounts of armor and Infantry to the area of Mortain, France, 150 miles west of Paris. At H-Hour, 7 August 1944, the troops of the XLVII Panzer Corps rolled forward in Operation Luttich with the 2nd SS Panzer Division headed directly for Mortain and Hill 314, a key terrain feature in the central sector of the attack. Above are depicted part of the Anti-tank Company, 3rd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division (N.C., S.C., Tenn.) during fighting on the second day. They had set up a roadblock adjacent to Hill 314, where the 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry, was dug in directly north of Mortain. The crews, manning the 57mm anti-tank guns and troops of the 2nd Battalion with anti-tank rockets, were responsible for destroying over 40 vehicles during the action and stopping the German onslaught in the area. On the 7th of August, the roadblock and Hill 314 were surrounded and bypassed by the main body of German forces. The group surrounded on Hill 314, commanded by Capt. Reynold Erichson -- about 700 men -- were protected by a ring of artillery fire from the 35th Infantry Division artillery and fighter-bomber sorties flown by the 2nd Tactical Air Force RAF. This kept the Germans from taking Hill 314 and stopped the momentum of the counterattack in the area on the first day. The 35th Infantry Division, attacking the German penetration from the southwest, relieved the besieged troops at noon on 12 August. In one of the outstanding small-unit achievements of the war in Europe, the defenders held out for six days, sustained 300 casualties, but denied the enemy a key objective. For their valiant actions on Hill 314, the 120th Infantry Regiment was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. This proud fighting tradition of the 30th Infantry Division is perpetuated by the 30th Infantry Brigade, North Carolina Army National Guard.

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Images of these paintings may also be used for educational purposes with an appropriate permission statement, such as: "[name of painting], a National Guard Heritage Painting by [name of artist], courtesy the National Guard Bureau." The U.S. Government retains all copyrights to these paintings. No commercial use is authorized without prior approval.