Welcome to VZW's Tribute to the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
9th Infantry Division Tribute
9th Infantry Division — World War II — Normandy, France
The entrance to Cherbourg harbor from the English Channel
After pushing inland from Utah Beach, the 9th Infantry Division soon began the next phase of the Normandy campaign — the push north to capture the critical port city of Cherbourg.

The division swept west across the Cotentin Peninsula to liberate the seaside village of Barneville and other villages along the way, then began the ascent to Cherbourg.

"Early on the morning of June 19, 1944, the Ninth, 4th and 79th divisions attacked toward Cherbourg," Joseph B. Mittelman wrote in Eight Stars to Victory: A History of the Veteran Ninth U.S. Infantry Division.

"Without letup, the Ninth followed closely at the heels of the withdrawing enemy, who waged stiff delaying warfare. This advance was facilitated greatly by the possession of a series of maps containing accurate overprints of enemy positions, which had been discovered by American intelligence and seen by aerial reconnaissance units."

It was during the drive to Cherbourg when the 47th Infantry Regiment's 2nd Battalion C.O., Lt. James D. Johnston, was mortally wounded at the blood-stained Crossroads 114 near Acqueville by an 88mm shell, along with other members of his staff.

"History was made by the 47th Infantry on June 25, 1944, when its 2nd Battalion under Major (Lt. Colonel) Woodrow W. Bailey (who had replaced Johnston as 2nd Battalion C.O.) entered Cherbourg at 12:55 p.m.," Mittelman wrote in Eight Stars to Victory. "It was just after a most successful aerial bombardment that the battalion began entering the city from Equeurdreville Fort. Both the attached engineers and Company E could lay claim to having set first foot inside the city itself.

"However, the accepted version is that Pfc. John T. Sarao of Company E started racing his platoon leader to see who would be first into Cherbourg — and Sarao won.

"The key to Cherbourg was the well-defended, ancient fortress of Equeurdreville. Major Bailey prescribed a frontal assault, which followed a rolling mortar concentration. This strategy forced the Germans to stay buttoned-up, while the battalion overwhelmed the supposedly impenetrable defenses. It was not an easy victory, and only after hard fighting and many German casualties was the fort reduced."

DISTINGUISHED UNIT CITATION, from Eight Stars to Victory: A History of the Veteran Ninth U.S. Infantry Division:

The 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, is cited for extraordinary gallantry and outstanding performance of duty from 21 June to 26 June 1944, during which time it assaulted and captured four heavily-fortified enemy-held positions and penetrated the heart of Cherbourg, having advanced more than 10 kilometers from Crossville.

Advancing toward Coudet on 21 June, the battalion came under heavy and murderous barrages of artillery, mortar and flat-trajectory fire which injured or killed the battalion commander, a company commander and other key leaders.

Reorganizing and rallying on the following day, they pushed forward in the face of heavy fire and overran the strongpoint, capturing 120 prisoners, 25 machine guns and 5 antiaircraft guns. Continuing their drive forward on 23 June they assaulted one of the strongest of the fortified German positions in the defensive belt around Cherbourg. The enemy was entrenched strongly in concrete pillboxes and deeply revetted trenches on commanding ground. Three assaults were necessary in order to reach this vital objective, it finally being taken by violent hand-to-hand fighting within the German positions.

Then, outflanking the enemy by a clever ruse at Equeurdreville, the position was assaulted and the enemy routed with rifle fire and bayonets. After enemy Nebelwerfers had been silenced, patrols infiltrated within the Cherbourg arsenal, fought off savage resistance and held out until reinforcements were able to reach them. Shortly after daylight, the arsenal garrison surrendered.

Within 5 days, the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, captured four heavily-fortified positions, 2,600 prisoners, 25 antiaircraft guns and hundreds of automatic weapons and small arms. Without ever having flank protection from units on its left and suffering 113 casualties from the almost constant barrages rained upon it, the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, crossed more than 10 kilometers of heavily-fortified and difficult terrain and engaged the enemy with a magnificent display of courage and devotion to duty.

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596th Signal Support Co., 97th Signal Battalion
47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
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