fltr: Bruce Cole, son of Lester's Third Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Robert Cole, KIA, 9/18/44, Mark Bando - Betty Taylor

In the morning of Sept.18, 1944, Col. Cole (left) was in the woods between Son and Best (see map below) Because the Germans tried to get nearer to them Cole asked air support and left his foxhole. a Shell exploded near the foxhole and his radioman was killed instandly. Cole was wiping of the blood and brains from the radio when someone told him that support was coming. While the P-47's fired Cole walked out in front of his men and beyond the woods. For a brief period, he stood there deliberateliy in the open, with his hand shielding his eyes, looking up at a circling plane. Then a sniper's bullet from a house 100 yards away hit him in the temple and he died instantly. A non-expected ending of a young leader, Texas born and West Point educated who fought at Carentan (Normandy)

The enemy fire was so heavy that the they couldn't go for the Best bridge, which was only 60 yards from their foxholes. That bridge was the main target for them, still intact and very important in the road from South to North. They had no choice but to lie there and look at it. At exactly 1100 hours there was an explosion and the bridge was gone.

On the 3rd day of the fighting at Best Company I was streched from the forest to across the highway, confronting Best and defending to the north-westward.

During the 502 reunion (early 2002 in Florida) Betty Taylor got in contact with Bob Harzell of Company I. He gave her audio tapes from a report of the trip to Normandy on June 6, 1944 from Col. Cole's plane.

These photos were made during the 2002 reunion of Company I in Florida.

Finaly Betty got in contact with men who fought at the same spot, at the same time her brother Lester did. However his commanding officier Champ Baker died a few years ago but she got in contact with his daughter who wrote Betty the following short note. No greater compliment is possible for the men from 502, Company I. Even 58 years after he wrote this letter, it must bring very warm feelings to a woman who was only a five year old girl when her big brother died in a country, far away from home....

my Dad (Champ Baker) wrote to my grandmother during the war (Thank God she saved all that, and his sister gave it all to me when my grandmother died) and found one letter that he had written to her on Sept. 30 from Holland, almost 2 weeks after Lester was killed. This is some of what he said:

"No doubt you've read the paper and know about the operations in Holland. Needless to say I'm here as a result. I've come through everything safely, though at times I thought I had seen my last. Sherman was right about war as I have found out lately. I think it was a little worse for the Germans than us though. After waiting for a crack at them for nearly four years, I finally got within shooting distance of them. We really kicked hell out of them. My company alone took over four hundred prisoners and killed around three hundred of them. They are not nearly the fighters I thought they would be. Evidently they are on the down grade in a big way. They're a little tricky, but I found our boys are more than a match for them. Really proud of my company since we fought them. Have nine of them in for medals as a result of the action we participated in against them. Wouldn't trade a one of them away for anything. Sure have a fighting group of men. "

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Pictures on this page courtesy Betty Taylor

© Peter van de Wal

I don not intend to infringe on any copyrights.I just want to promote Band of Brothers© and pay a tribute to everyone who was involved in giving back our freedom in wwII

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