June 15, 1944 — The Roman Holiday ends

June 14, 1944 — Dad has enough time to write a long letter to his best friend
June 14, 2024
June 16, 1944 — Dad’s division bivouacs at Lido di Ostia
June 16, 2024
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June 15, 1944 — The Roman Holiday ends

The 3rd Infantry Division’s stay in Rome was short, less than ten days. Now Phil and his men were being told to gird themselves for their next operation.[1]

Although they did not know it at the time, they were being sent to train for Operation Dragoon, the amphibious assault on southern France. It would be there 5th D-Day of the 3rd Infantry Division (after Morocco, Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio).

The first step of their next journey began on June 16, 1944, when the 30th Infantry Regiment took trains heading south to Pozzuoli, situated about twelve miles inland from the bay at Naples.

Why south instead of north, toward Germany?

Because Phil and his men needed intensive training for the large-scale amphibious operations that were surely in their future. The beaches and terrain in that area most closely resembled where they were to land in southern France.

The VI Corps commander, Major General Lucian Truscott, the second youngest corps commander in the U.S. Army, reinitiated an extremely strenuous training regimen he had used when commanding the 3rd Division invasion of Sicily.

The program was designed to make the men the fastest, toughest marchers in the U.S. Army.

Instead of the standard infantry marching rate of 2½ mph, Truscott trained his division to march 5 mph for the first hour, 4 mph each of the next two hours, and then 3½ mph for up to thirty miles.

Phil’s 3rd Battalion bragged of holding the all-time record for a march of fifty-four miles in thirty-three hours.ii The men grudgingly called these hikes the “Truscott Trots.”

They trained like dogs, starting at six in the morning with a five-mile, one-hour trot or speed hike, and then going hard until three in the afternoon on a nearby beach, practicing dangerous amphibious landings and other tasks that could save their lives.

Nighttime brought no rest for their weary bodies as they would run through close-order drills three times a week before returning to their headquarters and racking out.[2]

[1] Larimore. At First Light. Page 115.

[2] Ibid.


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