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QUARTIER GENERAL DU
VIII
CORPS

REPORT OF THE VIII CORPS AFTER ACTION AGAINST ENNEMY FORCES IN BRITANNY, FRANCE, FOR THE PERIOD 1 - 30 SEPTEMBRE 1944

         Early in the afternoon of the 10th, the 8th Division reached the banks of the Penfeld River, nearthe old city wall, with the 13th Infantry. The 121st Infantry also penetrated to the wall on its front and attempted to assault this barrier after a heavy artillery preparation. The assault was not successful because of the intense automatic and anti-tank fire from the wall. The next day, the Corps Artillery attempted to breach the wall with direct fire from heavy caliber weapons, but while gaps were torn in the upper part of the wall, the lower section remained intact and the breach was insufficient to permit an infantry assault through it.

           In an effort to add more power to the attacks conducted by the 29th Division, the unit's area of responsibility was reduced on 10th September. This was accomplished by having the 28th Infantry of the 8th Division take over the sector occupied by the 115th Infantry. This displacement gave the division an opportunity to concentrate its forces for its attacks on the Recouvrance side. On the same day that the displacement was made, the 29th Division attacked with two regiments abreast and made some limited gains. Task Force "S" cleaned up Le Conquet Peninsula, and the next day the force was dissolved.

           The assault of the wall at this time, either on the north or the east side, appeared as a costly undertaking and one of doubtful success, even if attemted with any force. It was therefore decided to contain the enemy forces with in the old city and pound them into submission with artillery and air, at least until such time as the defense of the ramparts appeared to weaken or a more suitable site for breaching was disclosed.

The 8th Division, having reached the wall on its front ; decision was now made to relieve the unit and send it over to Crozon for the reduction of the defenses on that Peninsula. Consequently, on the night of the 11th September, the 13th and 121st Regiment were withdrawn and assembled in the vicinity of Plouvien, preparatory to the movement to the south. The responsibility for containing the inner defenses on the north side of the city was now given to the 2nd Division and it displaced its 9th Infantry to the west, taking over the area east of the Penfeld River. Quartier St-Martin

           On the same night, the 8th Division was withdrawn, the 29th Division launched an attack at 11:00 to 24:00 This night attach was of sufficient depth and force that it was able to carry on through the next day. The anti-tank ditch west of St. Pierre was crossed by the 115th Infantry and advances were made on Hill 97 from the north. During the 12th September, the 2nd Division continued its house to house fighting while the 8th Division continued its assembly for the Crozon operation.

          On the 13th, Colonel Reeves, the Corps G-2, was dispatched with a message to the German Commander, General Ramcke, asking for the surrender of the Brest Fortress and the enemy forces on Crozon. The message pointed out the futility of further resistance and the unnecessary waste of the lives of men whe had already carried out their defensive mission. The request was rejected by the German Commander. These unsuccessful negociations for the surrender were published to the troops of the Corps and they were instructed to take the Germans apart.

           On the same day the surrender request was made, the 29th Division attacked with four battalions in the line and some substantial gains were made on the left of the division sector. The 2nd Battalion of the 175th Infantry assaulted Fort Keranroux and captured that strongpoint. In the 2nd Division area, the 9th Ifantry consolidated its positions along the north of the city wall. while the other two regiments continued with the house to house fighting on the eastern side of the city. Meanwhile the 8th Division moved the 121th Infantry and part of the 28th Infantry to Crozon

           On the 14th September, the 8th Division continued its move to Crozon Peninsula and disposed its troops during the evening and night for an attack on the 15th. Task Force "A", which had been containing the enemy forces on Crozon on the Telgrue line, was attached to the 8th Division for the attack. In the eastern section of Brest, the 2nd Division continued its tough house to house fight outside the wall. As the battalions advanced, they uncovered tunnels and underground shelters which contained a considerable number of German and a few American wounded. The usual filthy conditions, characteristic of German field hospitals and aid stations, prevailed in these places and evacuation to the American hospitals was initiated.

           On the west, the 29th Division pushed its attack and made considerable progress on the left with the 175th Infantry. The Polygone high mound, forming the backing for the naval range, was captured and a counter-attack against Fort Keranroux was repelled. "B" Squadron of the 141st Royal Armoured Corps, with 15 "Crocodiles" (Churchill tanks mounting flame throwers in addition to normal equipment) was attached to the 116th Infantry and assisted in that unit's attack on Fort Montbarey. Four of the flame throwing tanks were used, but they did not fare well on their first employment. Although a passage through the minefield was cleared and marked for them, two of the tanks wandered off and struck mines. Another tank was destroyed by enemy fire while a fourth was unable to clear the starting line. On the division's right, the 115th Infantry captured Hill 99, northeast of the village of La Trinite. The resistance along the entire front was heavy but nevertheless over 700 prisoners were taken during the day. The enemy batteries on the Crozon Peninsula, in spite of heavy concentrations from the Corps Artillery and the air, continued to harass the right flank of this division with spasmodic fire throughout the day.

           On the Crozon Peninsula, the 8th Division, with two regiments abreast, launched its attack at 08:00 on the 15th September. The attack jumped off under cloudy skies and intermittent showers which precluded the use of air support until the afternoon. Little opposition was uncountered at first, but by 10:00, the main line of resistance of the enemy was reached and opposition stiffened sharply. News attacks were launched during the afternoon, but they were unable to breach the line at any point.

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