On the next page we continue the battle for Normandy. It is
the follow up after 'Operation Overlord', D-Day, June 6th,
1944. If you have not visited those pages yet, then I recommend
to visit first the home-page . On this introduction
page you can make a tour around the objects that are still the
silent witnesses to the fierce battles that were once fought
On the coming pages the battle continues to liberate
Cherbourg (to the north), the battle for Caen, Operation Cobra
(to the south) and the final episode, the enclosure of the
German troops in 'The Falaise Pocket'.
In the first three weeks after the landings, while the
British 2nd Army was preparing to capture Caen, the American
1st Army was busy to get a firm grip between UTAH and OMAHA
Beach and to clear the Cotentin peninsula from German troops.
Crucial in this was the capture of Carentan. Part of the
troops that were at the front of the attack on Carentan was
the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 101st
Airborne Division. On June 12th Carentan was taken (later, the
attack was re-enacted for the TV-series 'Band of Brothers').
Despite of some counterattacks by the Germans, the Americans
held their positions.
house on the right was torn down to widen the
5th Corps tried to break out to the south and east but the
lack of enough ammunition and the swampy terrain delayed the
operations. 7th Corps headed northwest, towards Cherbourg. The
hilly terrain with the hedges around its fields, the 'bocage', gave the
defending Germans a great cover. The advance of the Americans
was slow. This was part due to the shortage of material and
ammunition that had to come from UTAH Beach that was still
under constant shelling by German batteries. Also the 9th Divison was not aggressive enough.
The commander of
7th Corps, General Collins, decides to a quick action
(which gives him the nick-name 'Lightning Joe') with the
82nd Airborne Division and the 9th Division to cross the
General J. Lawton Collins.
By coincidence, the Germans pulled back and the
action went very swiftly. On 18 June the West Coast was reached
and the retread route from the north was closed off. The
Germans retreated back on Cherbourg. The next day the American
troops headed north on a wide front in pursue of the Germans.
Seven kilometers north of Ste-Mère-Eglise, on the N13, lies
the town of Montebourg. 505th Para Infanry Battalion first
attacked this town on 10 June. The defence was that fierce,
that on the 12th the town was still in German hands. When
Collins ordered a new attack on the 19th the town finally fell
in American hands. But the cost was dear, 90% of the town was
Then and Now.
Nine Kilometers north of Montebourg lies the town of
Valognes. This was the headquarters of the German commander
Von Schlieben until he also retreated to Cherbourg on June 20.
Valognes was, just as Montebourg, almost totally destroyed and
after the war completely rebuilt
THE V1 LAUNCHING SIDE,
To liberate Cherbourg and her harbour and to
obstruct the re-supply from the south to the Germans, it was
necessary to cut off the peninsula Cotentin. This was
accomplished on 18 June, 1944 when troops of the 7th Army
(US) reached the westcoast. Between 25.000 and 40.000
German soldiers were trapped. The 21st of June, the 8th and
12th Infantry Regiment (US) started the attack to the north,
heading for Cherbourg. First target was the V1 launchside near
Le-Mesnil-au-Val. The concrete remnants are still there.
From the N13, between Valognes and Cherbourg, take the D56
to the right. After a few kilometres are on the left the
concrete constructions visible. Unfortunately, it is almost
impossible to inspect the place up close because it is part of
Schlieben was asked to surrender the defence of Cherbourg on
21 June, but he refused. The consequence was that on the 22nd
a heavy bombardment hit Cherbourg. Because of inaccurat marking of
the targets and dense smoke a lot of American servicemen were
badly hit. Cherbourg was far from easy to capture. On 25 June
General Bradley gave the order to three battleships (Nevada,
Texas and Arkansas) and four smaller ships for a severe navy
bombardment to silence the last resistance at Cherbourg. The
bombardment went on for three hours and were against the
German coastal defense east and west of Cherbourg, the so
called 'Osteck' and 'Westeck'. The most shells landed east of
Cherbourg, Val de Saire. The Osteck complex near Fermanvile
was a pain in the neck for General Collins, with it's fourthy
blockhauses and heavy guns that threatend the harbour of
Cherbourg 25 kilometers away.
finding bunker of the Seeadler battery near Fermanville.
(For more of this complex, click on;'the bunker page')
During the final attack on Cherbourg, on June 26th, the
22nd US Infantry Regiment went in for the last assault on this
battery. The Germans blew the ceilings out of the bunkers, so
their guns were able to shoot inland. But on the 28th it was
all over when Major Küppers and his garrison surrenderd to the
Meanwhile, on 26 June the battle for
Cherbourg was also over with the capitulation of General Von
Schlieben. The last German resistance was broken on the 30th
with the capture of the north-west point of Cap de la Hague.
WHAT IS PRESERVED AND TO
FIND AROUND CHERBOURG
After the war Cherbourg was rebuilt. The harbour was
totally wrecked and destroyed by the Germans. Even though the
allies captured the city, the harbour could not be used for
eight weeks and the supplies for the allies were still brought
to shore on the beaches. The most important museum concerning
the battle for Cherbourg can be found in Fort du Roule. If you
come from the N13 follow the signs from the Thémis roundabout.
In the museum are original maps, posters and pictures
displayed. Around the harbour are still enormous bunkers to be
found, as in the vicinity of Hotel Mercure. Left and right to
Cherbourg are some interesting objects to be found. Eight
kilometers west of Cherbourg, near Landemer, lay some bunkers
which are swept from the dunes and lay as enormous dead skulls
on the beach.
Further west of Cherbourg lies a giant bunker complex near
Rocher du Castel-Vendon. It is totally destroyed by American
engineers. But is well worth the visit when you're around.
To continue the battle for Normandy, click 'HERE'. Then the battle
concentrates around Caen.
Back to the top