Invasion of Southern France
Andrew Orient was born on February 1, 1912 in St. Clair Township, PA. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and served in the 756th Tank Battalion, Company B, 3rd Platoon. Andrew rose to the rank of Lieutenant and took command of the 3rd platoon after the Battle for Cassino in Italy (winter 1943-1944). He also participated in the offensive for Rome prior to the allied amphibious landing in Southern France.
The Allied invasion of Southern France, codename Operation Dragoon, took place on August 15th, 1944. The assault troops were formed of three American divisions of the VI Corps, reinforced with a French armoured division. The 3rd Infantry Division landed at Cavalaire-sur-Mer. The 756th Tank Battalion was part of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 3rd Platoon was attached to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 15th Regiment.
The tanks from the 3rd Platoon were selected to land in the first wave of the amphibious landings:
"These were specially outfited Sherman tanks rigged to be amphibious. They were dropped in the water about 2000 yards off the shore and drove in nearly completely submerged and were moved with propellers and steered with a rudder. The commander was completely exposed, standing on a platform built off the back of the turret and steering a rudder. This was very dangerous, there were mines in the water and mines on shore. There were rounds and rockets flying overhead toward enemy positions along the shore. One of these rockets fell short, killing one of the commanders on one of the other tanks (from company A). Another tank from the 3rd platoon was swamped by a wave (no loss of life). They were very fortunate that there was not much German resistance. Lt. Col Glenn Rogers, who commanded the 756th, wrote 2 days later that he expected to lose all 8 tank commanders that day from small arms fire--just because they were completely exposed!
. . .The Bronze Star was awarded to each of the men in those eight tanks for their participation in this operation. "1
Nine days later, Andrew was killed by artillery while at a crossroads near Marseille, France.
Lt. Orient is buried at the Rhone American Cemetery at Draguignan, France in Plot B, Row 6, Grave 21.
Jeff Danby, E-mail to Thomas Hoey, 30 Jan 2001. (Jeff is the author of a new book Day of the Panzer which includes information on Company L and the 3rd Platoon of the 756th Tank Battalion.)