Liberation of Barfleur in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy

Barfleur (Manche)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 21st, 1944

Deployed units :

Drapeau américain 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 4th Reconnaissance unit, 4th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 298th Engineer Combat Battalion

Drapeau américain 11th Port of Embarkation

Drapeau nazi 709. Infanterie-Division

History:

For the Allies, Barfleur represents a major operational interest in view of the presence of its port. The latter represents a major logistical interest in landing supplies of food, ammunition and fuel. The Allied contingency plan estimates the liberation of Barfleur 6 days after the start of the landing (ie June 12, 1944) and the commissioning of its port for logistical purposes 20 days later (June 26, 1944).

If the town of Barfleur is spared the ground combat of June 6, 1944, she witnesses the fighting and is the subject of numerous bombing by ships and Allied aircraft, which target the German defensive installations. Its port had been protected by the Germans, who installed several flanking casemates and an anti-tank wall protecting access against any attempt at landing. The main defensive support point, located at Le Cracko, is called “Stp 121”. Access to the port was blocked by a metal barrier made of “Belgian doors”. Other points of support complete this defense system: they are called “Wn 123”, “Wn 123” and “Wn 123a”.

In May 1944, during an inspection along the coast of the Channel, Marshal Rommel lodges at the Maison Alexandre (located at the current n°3 rue Saint-Thomas). On June 15, 1944, the submarine German U-621 from Saint-Malo infiltrates the Seine Bay off Barfleur and targets the Allied Armada. His attempts are unsuccessful and the submarine folds towards Brest. However, at the same time, a German air raid is launched against the ships and a torpedo dropped by a Junker 88 bomber reaches the USS LST 280 carrier. Hit at 08:03, it must be towed to England for repair.

The German defense considerably delays the forecast pace of US operations. On June 20th, however, the 4th Infantry Division continued to advance towards the north of Cotentin, taking over the right flank of American troops. Heading towards the Val de Saire, they clean the last pockets of resistance and the German coastal facilities one after the other. In the night, the last German defenders abandon their last positions to retreat to Cherbourg. The 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (4th Reconnaissance Unit, 4th Infantry Division) launched its platoons on June 21 to overtake the disorganized units belonging to the 709. Infantry Division. After Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, the 1st platoon of Lieutenant Alsauer begins the reconnaissance and frees Barfleur at 15 hours.

The sappers of the 298th Engineer Combat Battalion begin immediately the restoration work of the installations of the port of Barfleur. On June 25, 1944, the first unloadings begin. The logistic activities allow to disembark up to 800 tons of supplies per day, under the responsibility of the US military of the 11th Port of Embarkation. On June 27, 1944, during the demining of the German installations of the port of Barfleur, the sapper Jim J. Forster is killed by a German antipersonnel mine (Schrapnellmine 35) at 16:00. Five other engineers from Company B of the 298th Engineer Combat Battalion were injured in the explosion.
Supplies landing operations continue until mid-October 1944.

Map of Barfleur:

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