Chaource Strafing

Compiled, edited and published by Historical Section, Second Cavalry Association
Maj. A. L. Lambert and Cpt. G. B. Layton, 2d Cavalry

WWIIFelix Mazure, Frenchman with A Troop, 2d Squadron

25 August 1944

It was 10 o’clock and we were not far from Chaource (map III)(map 21) when there appeared in the sky a flight of P-47’s, American fighter-bombers.

They made a circle then, suddenly, two dove to strafe us coming from the south. Everyone knew what that meant. The vehicles of A Troop screeched to a halt and all together the occupants took a flying leap to the ground, trying to find cover in the ditches along the road.

At the time of jumping from the halftrack I hesitated for a moment on seeing the height of the vehicle and the depth of the ditch. But my comrades didn’t hesitate a second, and I also threw myself over the side, tommy gun in hand.

The sound of the plane increased, becoming a deafening roar, then when it appeared to be coming directly at us, flames shot from the leading edge of the wings and red tracers stabbed towards the earth. At the same time the cracking sounds of the machine guns struck our ears. My eyes were riveted on an enormous bomb carried under the fuselage. From the bomb my glance traveled to the halftrack. There, hung on the rear door of our halftrack, was a pretty white placard with a single word written in red – EXPLOSIVES.

The plane came in, spraying the road. A house about a hundred meters behind us broke into flames, and in a few minutes it was nothing but a smoking torch.

Everywhere the men were yelling, “Show the identification panels!” and some intrepid souls leaped to spread the panels, some pink, some yellow. We remained in the ditches and the planes circled for another pass. They finally recognized that we were Americans, but they remained on guard and kept us under observation.

One G.I. told me there were 300 gallons of gas in the truck behind us. It’s a good thing the plane didn’t drop it’s bomb – the explosives, the gasoline and us in the ditch – we would have been beyond all help!

The occupants of the halftrack my brother was in dismounted to flush the woods to the flanks to make sure no Krauts had been awakened. In ten minutes they had returned without finding even a single sniper.

A jeep passed at high speed, then returned a few moments later with a halftrack ambulance; there were some victims. (Eds. note: Hendershaw, Spivey and Choker, formerly Col. Hill’s driver.)

Finally the planes left. The Air Corps must have had orders to hit everything on the road we were using, (Eds. note: overrunning the no-fire line?) and since we were so camouflaged with branches that you couldn’t see the identification panels the P-47’s had taken us for the enemy.

We continued on and passed two machine gun bantams that had been hit. Two men were stretched out, the medics giving them first aid. Three other G.I.’s were there also, only slightly wounded. Even so, it was enraging to think that they were hit by American aircraft.

Towards 11 a.m. we entered Chaource. A halt and some hot poop (pardon my French). The chief of the FFI offered us some champagne. While we were drinking “to the victory”, 600 Maquis arrived in trucks. They told how they had captured a German General commanding an SS Division the evening before. He was no longer present.

A few minutes later we pushed on to Villiers le Bois. (Eds. note: From here A Troop patrolled to les Riceys (map III) and Bagenaux la Fosse, a section under Cpl. Paschal, following a German column almost to Bar sur Seine (map III)(map 21).)

The 42d Squadron, on the 26th, encountered an enemy force estimated to be a Division, moving from Dijon (map III)(map IV) to Tonnerre (map III)(map 20). Another enemy force, estimated to be of Regimental strength, reinforced by artillery, was located in the vicinity of Carisey (map 20). The 42d Squadron attacked this unit and forced it to withdraw, thus enabling us to perform effective cover for the south flank of the 4th Armored Division.

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