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 over there.

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.

Carentan, the house on the right was torn down to widen the road.

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 peninsula.

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 destroyed.

Montebourg, 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


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 a farm.

General Von 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.

The range 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 American troops.
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.


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.

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