Marcilly le Hayer

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

WWII24 August 1944

On 24 August, the 42d Squadron moved at 0800 to relieve the Third Cavalry before Sens (map III) and to gain the line Marcilly le Hayer (map III)(map 19)Arces (map III)Joigny (map III)(map 18).

Troop A deployed on the north and B Troop on the south. By 1130 the Troops had gained the designated line and were probing forward. Lt. Botta’s platoon of Troop A was covering the vicinity of Marcilly le Hayer, when at about 1500 Col. Reed and Capt. Andrews approached from the south.

In view of what followed it might be well to explain that Capt. Andrews misunderstood Col. Reed’s request to see his CP. Thinking that the Colonel said OP, since Lt. Botta had reported seeing some of the enemy, Capt. Andrews headed toward that position.

Breaking out of the woods on Hwy N374 one mile southeast of Marcilly le Hayer Capt. Andrews came to a halt, and shuddered as he saw the teams armored car stuck on the forward slope of the hill to his left, about 1000 yards from the town.

The Colonel and Andrews pulled over to the high ground on the right of the road, noticing the team’s MG bantam covering the main road in the draw before them. Standing on the highest point of ground they surveyed the surrounding country with their glasses.

Col. Reed, sniffing around as though he smelled trouble, asked Andrews, “Don’t you think we are being a little too brave?”

The very instant that they assumed the prone position as being a little more discreet, a German Panzer Grenadier unit, as identified by their black Panzer uniforms, left Marcilly le Hayer in deployed formation and charged up the hill toward Lt. Botta’s armored car. The A Troop team did not see them at first, and Col. Reed, with his sniper rifle, Capt. Andrews, and Cpl. Cook, the Colonel’s bantam rear gunner who was on the hill with them, opened fire from the flank. The Colonel drew a fine bead and dropped his first German.

Cpl. Cook was sent 500 yards further north for right flank protection, a lonely spot that he didn’t like at all.

O’Leary opened up with the machine gun below them, and the A Troop MG bantam joined in. The armored car cut loose and that slowed the German attack. The Krauts were all wearing their helmets, a unique sight.

There were some 30 to 35 Krauts left, and some of them were moving to engage the threat to their left flank, their fire pinning the Colonel, Andrews and Cook to the ground. Just then O’Leary crawled up beside the Colonel and reported, “Sir, the Commanding General of XII Corps has just radioed for the Colonel to report to his CP immediately”.

“Tell him there is nothing I’d like better”, retorted Col. Reed. “If he’ll get these Panzer people out of my hair, I’ll be glad to comply.”

Shortly afterwards Capt. Andrews called for reinforcements, and Sgt. Felice arrived on the scene with his team from Hill 252. This increase in force finally discouraged the Germans, who withdrew behind their dug in positions and AT guns in Marcilly. As Capt. Andrews put it, “We weren’t about to go out and count the dead”.

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