"Cole’s Bayonet Charge” memorial

Louis

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A memorial to Lt. Colonel Robert George Cole (born on Texas state 1915) who called in smoke on dug in Germans before leading a small portion of his unit in a Bayonet charge and engaging the Germans in hand to hand fighting for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
But what did Cole really do?

Robert G. Cole was an airborne battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division leading the 3rd Bn, of the 502nd Parachute Infantry into D-Day landing outside of Carentan. Cole himself had the distinction of being the first to jump from the leading plane on D-Day. Once on the ground, Cole organized a unit from the confused and scattered soldiers and advanced on his objective, a battery near Utah beach. However, when he discovered his objective already destroyed, he split his group in two to secure exits from the beachhead. The next objective was to link the forces that had landed at different beaches.


Gen. Eisenhower speaking with Lt Col. Robert Cole of the 101st Airborne (far right) just before he boarded his C-47 headed to Normandy.

Cole was ordered to secure the causeway which ran above the marshes near Carentan, France on June 10. His unit advanced slowly under heavy fire from the dense hedgerows, until they were no longer able to advance. On the morning of June 11, Cole was ordered to continue the attack, but his unit was still pinned down by enemy fire. He noticed that the enemy defense was centered around a farmhouse. When artillery fire had little effect on the German defenses, Cole ordered a bayonet charge, which he personally led. The charge was successful, and for his courage in leading it, Cole was recommended for the Medal of Honor but tragically would not live to see it. Just a few months later (Sept 18, 1944) during the invasion of Holland in Operation Market-Garden, Cole’s battalion was contacted by American P-47s and was asked to place orange marker panels in front of his unit’s position. The Thunderbolts had been trying to strafe German positions and were hitting some American ones as well.

Cole, rather than task a subordinate to it, decided to do it himself. As soon as Cole laid down the panel, the P-47s began putting devastating fire on the German positions and the amount of fire being received from them slackened perceptibly. Cole, standing in the open and shielding his eyes against the sun, he raised his head to catch a glimpse of the plane. A German sniper about 100 yards away in a farmhouse saw this and shot Cole in the temple killing him instantly.

Later, the Americans saw a German try to hightail it from the farmhouse, a .30 caliber machine-gun cut him down before he got far. The word passed quickly through the battalion that the men had gotten the German that killed Cole and they all felt much better about it.


American Cemetery in Margraten, plot B, row 15, grave 27

So the French citizens of Carentan erected a monument to the courage of “Cole’s Charge” as it had been called.
 
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