Monday, July 17, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
To the southwest of Caen, operation Atlantic begins and the forces of the 2nd Canadian infantry division attack in the direction of Louvigny, supported by the allied aviation and artillery. They fight courageously against the German soldiers of the 1st and 12th SS Panzer divisions, who fight most often until death. The village of Louvigny is reached but the Canadians are severely hung on the outskirts of the town. The Germans counterattack and resume the village, after furious fighting. After retreating, the Allies return to the assault and advance meter by meter in direction of Louvigny undergoing heavy losses.
The fighting north of Saint-Lô, in the Cotentin, continues. Very violent battles took place in the vicinity of the height of Martinville, north of the Madeleine and in the suburbs of Saint-Lô. The Americans are stopped in front of this crest which resists despite all the attacks of the 116th US Infantry Regiment. The battles are extremely violent and the belligerents must both attack and defend, while the losses are very high. The Allied fighters must support as closely as possible the American infantrymen who are very weakened by the weeks of previous fighting. The 35th US Infantry Division attacks the west positions of the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Korps which fall one after the other. US Major Howie, commanding the 3rd battalion of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division, is killed by the explosion of a shell fired by a German mortar. His body will be deposited the following day, July 18, on the ruins of the Church of St. Croix in St. Lô. An American flag is placed on his body, surrounded by flowers, while the fighting continues.
Marshal Rommel, while on his way to his headquarters at La Roche-Guyon Castle, was spotted and then chased by allied airmen piloting Spitfires belonging to the Royal Air Force’s 602th Squadron. The leading squadron is a South African pilot: J.-J. “Chris” Le Roux (he was reported missing on August 29, 1944).
The driver of the car is killed during the attack and Marshal Rommel is seriously wounded. The wreck of the car is later spotted by a German mechanic who drove the wounded into the village of Livarot, where they receive first aid.