23rd Armored Infantry Battalion
7th Armored Division
On Which Beach Did They Land in France?
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Last updated: July 29, 2013 - What's New?
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A/23 veteran Paul Crawford contacted 7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston to ask if there was documentation of which beach was the one at which Company A landed in France. This web page began 25 July 2013 from that request.

Paul Crawford's Memories of Landing

The sailor who drove the landing craft that took Paul ashore was a friend from Paul's home town in Pennsylvania. As they approached the beach, Paul asked the sailor on which beach they were landing. The sailor told him it was Omaha Beach.

Paul's memory was that the beach was about 20 feet below the land to which they had to ascend. This is more consistent with Omaha Beach than with Utah Beach.

Paul was also surprised to see that there was vegetation - a low scrub - on the top of the place to which they had to ascend. This is consistent with both Omaha and Utah Beaches.

Morning Report Information

23 AIB Morning Reports on Day of Landing in France - 11 Aug 1944
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The Morning Reports for Battalion Headquarters and for Service Company have not yet been obtained. The other elements of the Battalion came ashore at the following times:

  1. 1000 - Company B
  2. 1310 - Company C
  3. 1700 - Company A
  4. 1810 - Headquarters Company

At the end of the day, the units were all at the assembly area 1 mile south of "Vesley", France (actually Vesly). They arrived there at the following times:

  1. 1600 - Company B
  2. 1940 - Company C
  3. 1940 - Headquarters Company
  4. 2000 - Company A

Other Accounts

The 23 AIB After Action Report gives this account:

This battalion was stationed at Tidworth Barracks, England, during the period August 1 to 6. On 7 August personnel and vehicles proceded by motor to the marshalling area located about five miles north of Southhampton, arriving same date. On 8 August movement was made to the docks at Southhampton, England. There we were billetted and fed until approximately 2100 same date when we boarded the liberty ship "Jane Long", battalion headquarters and Company "B" went aboard, other units of this battalion boarded other ships at the docks. The ships sailed the morning of 9th August, the voyage was uneventful and we anchored off the shores of France the evening of the same day. Personnel and vehicles were sent ashore on the 10th and 11th and from that point proceded to an assembly area two miles from Laulne ..

Since we do not yet have the Morning Report for Battalion Headquarters, it is not clear whether Battalion Headquarters came ashore on the 10th. But none of the units (above) for which we have the Morning Reports came ashore on the 10th.

The location two miles from Laulne is really the same as 1 mile south of Vesly, since Vesly is just less than 2 miles west of Laulne.

B/23 veteran Gene Jones gave this account in his post-war book "Buzzings of Company B":

We received two meals this day after standing in line for hours, and at last we loaded on the SS Phillip S. Thomas and set sail for France in a convoy of thirteen ships. There was quite a bit of excitement aboard the liberty ship. No one seemed blue but everyone was in the best spirit and with a high morale.
We didn’t get to unload that day, and that night while most of us were lying on the raft or in our vehicles that were on the raft, we saw in the distance the first sign of battle. Far ahead and in the darkness of the night we could see anti-aircraft fire and blazing bullets from planes.
I doubt if any of the men slept that night. The next day was a warm sunny still time. The sun rays were sparkling off the clear water of the channel and many of us pulled off our shoes and paddled our feet around in the cool water while rafters were moving in place to unload.
On French soil at last! We debarked and hit the mainland around four o’clock on the evening of August the eleventh. Indeed it was a funny feeling. For almost three years we had known that a day like this would approach and now it was a reality. We were now on the ground where men had fought and died—right through the area where killing was the word on “D” day. Those men who had fought and died were just as we were. Yes sir, this was strange ground. The outlook on life changed considerable as our eyes peered to the front over the terrain that would claim many an American soldier’s life. Wonder who it would be? Time—only time could tell.
With our backs to the beaches and our eyes to the front we moved forward to a grouping area eight miles from Utah Beach and bivouacked near Vesley, France. Our first night was spent in complete silence as well as most of the nights from this time on. The ones who weren’t standing guard attempted to get some sleep, but sleep seemed to be a total stranger here, because we learned that we were in an area that had been used by the Germans for bivouacking and there was a certain feeling of fear and hate that would keep any American soldier awake and on the alert.

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