Texas Military Forces Museum


111th Observation Squadron
World War II Narrative History

Part VI:  The Battle Of Arzew

By morning the sea had subsided enough to allow the remainder of the squadron to unload from the Letitia. The landing craft were met at the beach by those members who had already spent the night ashore. As the newcomers stepped onto the beach, bottles of wine were pressed into their hands and also everyone availed himself of the opportunity to wash the greasy mess-kit taste from his mouth.

We spread out in platoons beneath the palms that edged the beach and awaited further orders. Every few minutes a rifle would crack from the direction of the town and we didn’t care for the sound at all. Suddenly a shot pinged from somewhere on the beach and we immediately crawled behind the nearest cover. The first shot was followed by more, and by this time we all had our rifles at the "ready" position. Soon a shot was fired from within our group and word was passed down that a sniper was firing from the window of a two-story building fifty yards away. That did it! Men laid their rifles across the shoulder of the nearest man and let go. Pistol clips were emptied into the tops of palm trees where snipers were suspected of being. Those with tommy-guns raked the entire building fore and aft. Some individuals, not sure as to who was firing at what, cut loose on a water tank parked on the street and took delight in watching the water spray forth from the punctured tank. Patrols were formed to surround the entire block in which the building lay. In the side streets the patrols ran into real sniper fire and they proceeded to riddle a church bell-tower from whence shots were suspected of coming. The entire action lasted little more than a minute, but the small window which had been the primary target had now been enlarged to a size through which a two-ton truck might be driven. The "cease-fire" order was given and immediately following a quick count was made to see how many of our men had been hit. No casualties were reported.

Runners were sent out to round up the patrols. As the men returned the platoons were re-formed and set out for the prearranged rendezvous ten miles away.

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