Sunday, July 30, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
The Germans, who quickly formed a line of defense between Cérences and Percy, were attacked in different places. The line, also called the “white line” by the Germans, was formed too hastily and the American firepower easily pierced this barrier and continued its offensive towards the south and in particular towards Avranches, which represents a gateway to the Britain, located 50 kilometers south of the start line of operation Cobra, launched on 24 July. The south of Saint-Lô is now under the control of the 2nd US Armored Division and the 30th Infantry Division, continuing their advance towards the south-east. To the east, Granville is liberated by the soldiers of the 6th Armored Division.
US infantry divisions (4th, 8th and 79th) attacking the east, supported respectively by the 3rd, 4th and 6th armored divisions, liberated Gavray, La Haie-Pesnel, Bréhal and Avranches. At the end of the day, the Americans reached the villages of Pontaubault and headed for Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët. The Germans were overwhelmed and abandoned their positions to the opposing forces and the Pontaubault bridge, which opens the road to Brittany, passes under American control.
General Patton, commander of the 3rd US Army, is proud of his soldiers. Speed was the key to operation Cobra and everything went as planned and some offensives, including the liberation of Avranches, exceeded all expectations. The Allies can now say: Cobra, despite its impressive losses, is a total success. The reports of the losses are as follows: nearly 18,450 American soldiers are out of combat (more than 5020 of them have died) and about 15,000 Norman civilians have been victims of bombing and fighting since the beginning of Cobra, on 24 July.
For their part, the British, who face two-thirds of the German soldiers in Normandy, are launching a new operation called Bluecoat. Six Anglo-Canadian divisions belonging to the 2nd Army of General Dempsey are taking part in the offensive, which aims to exploit, on the eastern flank of the American forces, the German defeat engendered by operation Cobra. The British attacked from Caumont in the direction of the eastern region of Vire to the southern region of Villers-Bocage, fiercely defended by the Western Panzergruppe commanded by Eberbach and the 7th German army of Hausser. Meanwhile, the 1st and 9th Panzer S.S. divisions attack east of Caen and weaken the British lines of defense.
Fourteen Churchill tanks of the 6th Guards Armored Brigade were destroyed during the day’s engagements for the loss of only two Jagdpanther in the Caumont area.