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A Brief History of the 358th Infantry


The Skyline Fades

On March 22 troops of the Regiment rode the rails to New York Harbor, where under the cover of darkness they boarded the M.S. John Erickson, sister ship to the famous Gripsholm. In the early morning haze of the following day she sailed majestically toward the open sea as a famous skyline faded out of sight on the distant horizon. Soon she joined a convoy of other ships and a naval escort that stood by like big brothers. On the second night out to sea the liner was forced to put back into port for engine repairs, but after three days in New York Harbor, she again put out to sea and proceeded across the Atlantic without further incident. So it was a welcome sight indeed on Easter Sunday, the eighth of April, when troops of the Regiment looked out on Liverpool Harbor.

Life in England

At Liverpool the Regiment was hustled aboard English trains and transported across the neatly patterned English countryside to two camps just south of Birmingham. The Second and Third Battalions, and Special Units were billeted at Camp Strut Common near the town of Bewdley, while the First Battalion was at Camp Coton Hall. Training began immediately with special emphasis on physical conditioning exercises and marches over the picturesque English countryside. Daily the men were required to carry full combat equipment on fast road marches. Another hike was added to the busy schedule for some when they set out for the nearby villages of Kidderminster and Bewdley, where the local atmosphere as well as ale was absorbed.

To the Last Shoe String

On May 12 the units moved again - this time to settle as a Regiment at Llanmartin, near Newport, Wales. The stay at Camp Llanmartin, however, was to be short-lived with most of the time devoted to the checking of equipment down to the last shoe string. The hardening and toughening training in the nature of fast road marches with full combat equipment continued and soon brought the men to the peak of physical condition. Meanwhile, the outfit was "sealed" in the camp. The mysterious, heavily-guarded building with its boarded-up windows took on added significance as high commanders entered to study impending operations.


On June 4th the Regiment packed up and moved in closest secrecy to dockside at Newport, Wales - the personnel of the Third Battalion loading into the Bienville, and the rest of the Regiment into the Excelsior. The vehicles and heavier equipment were loaded into Liberty ships. When loading was completed, the ominous gray ships slipped from Newport Harbor and proceeded to rendezvous off Cardiff, Wales with several other ships. On board, it was soon obvious the big event which had been in the wind for so long was about to happen and on the second day the Convoy sailed from Cardiff, remaining within sight of the English coast for some time.

Then it was no longer a secret. The ship's radio announced that this was D Day. Paratroopers were fighting in France - Allied troops had already landed on the Normandy coast. Intermittent radio reports throughout the day added a tenseness to the expectant atmosphere as the role of the 358th Infantry was unveiled. Maps and detailed plans appeared from everywhere, and last minute preparations were made for debarkation and movement to the first assembly area in France. Prior the debarking, the Regiment's chaplains held well attended church services in the mess halls and compartments of the troop ships.

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