Both assault battalions of the 142nd on Red and Green beaches were pinned down from time to time. On the right flank the assault battalions of the 141st Infantry landed on schedule and began working through wire obstacles and mines. Intense fire from machine guns, field pieces, mortars, and tanks made their progress difficult.
At 0640 the 143rd Infantry, initially in reserve and commanded by Colonel William H. Martin, crossed the beaches and began moving toward Cappacio, a village on the slopes of Mt. Soprano.
Then a column of the 36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop landed on Yellow Beach and helped to fight off seven Mark IV's which were firing opposite the right flank. In the center of the 141st line, the men of the 2nd Battalion beat off tanks with infantry weapons. Meanwhile, more tanks threatened the 1st Battalion in the fields south of Blue Beach. For its role in repulsing the enemy tank attacks, Lt. Col. Edward D. McCall's 3rd Battalion of the 141st was awarded the Division's first Presidential Unit Citation.
By noon the main tank assualt on the southern beaches had been brought virtually to a stanstill. Naval gunfire and fire from mortars and howitzers had helped to make the operations costly for the enemy, but to a large extent the battle had been fought by infantrymen and infantry weapons.
To the north the principal tank attacks came later. At 1145 Division CP personnel in the tobacco warehouse at Casa Vannulo saw 13 German tanks approaching. From the ditches along the railroad the men watched the enemy come within easy range. On the main coastal highway an artillery piece, set hastily in defense, opened fire. Another howitzer was brought up and unlimbered from its "duck" carrier even as the tanks were nearing, and fought off the German armor. When five of the enemy tanks were KO'd, some at 200 yard range, the rest of the Germans turned.
By 1000, Colonel Martin assembled the 143rd's two leading battalions, the 2nd and 3rd, at the railroad. Their objective was Hill 386, a projection running northwest from Mount Soprano and ending abruptly in a cliff just above the junction of the roads to Capaccio and Rocca d"Aspide. Mount Soprano, dominating the entire area, was an important objective of the Division. By nightfall on D-Day the 143rd controlled the southeast slope of Mount Soprano and a vital stretch of the road leading to the plain.
In anticipation of the fierce struggle, Lt. Col. John N. Green, commanding the 132nd Field Artillery Battalion (Pete Green's Mortars) coined a Division classic on the eve of D-Day.
Asked by one of his men, "What are we going to do if we run out of ammunition?"
"Fight with the Rammerstaff!" was the Colonel's bellowing reply.
Dumps were set up, exit roads were operating, anti-aircraft batteries were in position, and communications finally working.
The Salerno landing had been sucessful in spite of a prepared and alerted enemy. The 36th now occupied the important hills from Altavilla to Ogliastro. On the 10th of September, the second day ashore, the beachhead was enlarged, positions consolidated, and more tanks brought in to prepare for heavier clashes to come.
The 142nd Infantry moved forward in preparation for an attack on Altavilla and Hill 424.
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