"Squeak" Greenip: Veteran Story

German prisoners march out of surrendered Cherbourg under U.S. Army guard. (U.S. Navy photo)
German prisoners march out of surrendered Cherbourg under U.S. Army guard. (U.S. Navy photo)

After the break out of D-Day, Capt. Greenip led E Company, 8th Infantry as it tried to shore up control of the Contentin Peninsula. This vignette tells his story of a critical ammunition run to resupply troops facing German opposition.

The time was probably about 10 or 11 June 1944 and we were holding just outside Montebourg in Normandy. The 90th Division had built up behind us and started across the Cotentin Peninsula to seal it off before we started for Cherbourg. We were under pressure from the Germans all along our front and especially in the 2nd Battalion area. They did not want to be trapped on the Peninsula and we did not want them to break out!

During the day I was sent forward from regiment to determine the situation in front of the 2nd Battalion. My group was elsewhere, so I went forward to visit "E" and "F" Company.

Shortly after dark the Germans attacked the 2nd Battalion sector, the line held but the pressure built! Battalion said they could probably hold but that "E" Company was low on ammunition. Capt. "Squeak" Greenip, commander "E" Company told Regiment that I knew his location and asked that I bring as much ammunition as a jeep and 1/4-ton trailer could hold - by midnight! We loaded a good selection and took off for the "front" - about 4 or 5 miles away. Time was short so we used the main highway - a straight shot toward Montebourg - an 88 covered the road but we felt that the dark gave us cover. About 200 meters short of where I planned to turn off to "E" Company we found that the road had been mined. The Germans had not had time to dig in the mines - they just sat on top of the roadway. There were about 20 Teller anti-tank mines!

I decided it was too dangerous to go off road around the mines - so I walked in front, checked for trip wires, and guided Salvaggio, my driver, as he straddled the mines - we got through! The two "shotguns" rejoined us on the other side. We continued on for about 200 meters and turned left into a field, stopped against a hedgerow and went looking for "E" Company. We finally found them, the fire fight was about 100 meters to their front and slowing down a little. "Squeak" gave me a carrying party and we picked up the ammunition and took it to "C" Company.

About 30 minutes later we got back to the jeep, and Salvaggio was still there but "as nervous as a whore in church." It seems the Germans were digging in on the other side of the hedgerow to our front. They hadn't checked and we didn't tell them - so there we were - about 50 meters apart and separated only by darkness and a hedgerow.

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