By Alan Davidge When the 230th Field Artillery Battalion was attached to the 30th Infantry (“Old Hickory”) Division in Mortain, France, on August 6, 1944, many of its men had already received their baptism of fire in Normandy. They had trudged through the grim remains of the slaughter on Omaha Beach, then endured weeks of fighting in the notorious hedgerows before arriving at the abattoir of St. Lô. In addition to being on the receiving end of the worst that the German army could throw at them, a number of the “cannon cockers” had also been caught up in the short-bombing incidents by their own air force on July 24/25, which killed Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, the commanding general of Army Ground Forces, who was in France acting as a decoy as Commanding General of the fictitious FUSAG—the First United States Army Group (Lt. Gen. George S. Patton had played that role earlier). This had taken place at the start of Operation Cobra, the breakout from the beachhead, which resulted in considerable American casualties. The 30th Infantry Division suffered particularly badly with many casualties coming from the 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment. These men thought they had seen it all: landing craft, mines, tanks, snipers, friendly fire and the dreaded 88s, but fate had more horrors in store. Private First Class Frank Denius from Austin, Texas, was one of the 230th FA's Forward Artillery Observers (FAOs). After initial military training at school from age 13, he had j


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