The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles
Liberation: June 7, 1944
16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
741st Tank Battalion
743rd Tank Battalion
745th Tank Battalion
816th Engineer Aviation Battalion
II/Grenadier-Regiment 916, 352. Infanterie-Division
I/Grenadier-Regiment 726, 716. Infanterie-Division
The village of Colleville-sur-Mer and its beach are defended by four strongpoints coded from Wn (for the German “Wiederstandnest“, meaning “resistance point”) 60 to Wn 63. Two valleys allow to cross the plateau to reach the beach: the valley of Moulins to the northwest, not to be confused with the place called Les Moulins in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer) and the valley of Saint-Siméon in the northeast.
In the spring of 1944, when the Allies were preparing for the Normandy landing, the Americans defined two beach areas facing Colleville-sur-Mer, baptized from west to east: Fox Green and Fox Red. They also encode the two valleys which become “E-3” for Les Moulins and “F-1” for Saint-Siméon. The plan of attack provides that companies I and L of the 16th Infantry Regiment (1st Infantry Division) will attack the Fox Green area. No units are scheduled to land on Fox Red. The Germans stationed at Colleville-sur-Mer belong to the 8th Company of the Grenadier-Regiment 916 (352. Infanterie-Division) and the 3rd Company (Leutnant Edmund Bauch) of the Grenadier-Regiment 726 (716. Infanterie-Division).
On June 6, 1944, at 1 am, the landing ships en route to Omaha Beach arrived in sight of the coast and stopped the progression 23 kilometers from the shore. German sentries spot the dark masses on the water but fail to identify them. Several Allied aerial bombardments strike the sector but without touching the defenses. Shortly after 5.10, the warships in front of Omaha belonging to Task Force O opened fire on the German positions. 29 Sherman amphibious tanks coded “Duplex Drive” belonging to the squadrons B and C of the 743rd Tank Battalion are launched but only 3 of them do not flow: the swell is far too strong for the amphibious device of these special tanks .
The first wave of assault hit Normandy at 6.35 am. Silent until then (not to be spotted by the Allied naval gunners), the German defenses opened fire when the soldiers had water to the thighs . A deluge of steel and fire defeated the Americans who instantly recorded very high losses. In just a few minutes, one third of the first wave of assault on Fox Green is decimated. Captain John Finke’s F Company, which was scheduled to land further west, was deported by the current and stormed the Fox Green sector: the vast majority of executives were killed and only two officers of the company Cross the beach. Captain Kimball Richmond’s company I was delayed: the sailors first took the direction of Port-en-Bessin in the east before realizing their error. They manage to disembark Company I on the right area but with 90 minutes delay on schedule. L company recorded a delay of 30 minutes and landed directly on Fox Red instead of rallying Fox Green: 34 soldiers were killed in a matter of seconds.
Fox Green beach is different from other areas to the west, where the high tide directly affects small cliffs along the coast. The soldiers of Company L commanded by Captain John Armellino were quickly shielded. Although reduced to 125 soldiers, this unit is the only one of the 8 infantry companies engaged on Omaha to be directly operational after crossing the beach.
At 7 am, mixed elements belonging to 5 different companies are blocked on Fox Green. All the reinforcements are victims of machine-gun fire and mortar shells as they approach the beach, companies losing men before even footing on Norman soil. The accumulation of personnel and equipment on Fox Green causes an indescribable mess. At 8 o’clock, the most senior officer in this sector was Captain Richmond, commander of Company I. The infantry were severely lacking in support and support, command teams were often isolated from their subordinates, and few Disembark at the intended location. Several transport vessels are lost at sea or along the shore, such as the Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) 85 carrying personnel of company A of the 1st Medical Battalion and blocked by a beach obstacle: Immobile, it becomes an easy target for the Germans and is hit several times, especially under the waterline. The many wounded are transferred as best they can to another transport vessel.
At 7 am, mixed elements belonging to 5 different companies are blocked on Fox Green. All the reinforcements are victims of machine-gun fire and mortar shells as they approach the beach, companies losing men before even jogging on Norman soil. The accumulation of personnel and equipment on Fox Green causes an indescribable mess. At 8 o’clock, the most senior officer in this sector was Captain Richmond, commander of Company I. The infantry were severely lacking in support and support, and were disembarked at the intended location. Several transport vessels are lost at sea or along the shore, such as the Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) 85 carrying person of company A of the 1st Medical Battalion and blocked by a beach obstacle: Immobile, it becomes an easy target for the Germans and Is under the waterline. The many wonders can be transferred to another transport vessel.
As the tide rises, the soldiers take by storm the slope that allows access to the plateau overlooking the beach. On Fox Green, it is Captain John Armellino’s company L, which leads the way with the survivors of its four sections by engaging in a depression located east of Wn 61 and named valley of the Revolution. It is accompanied by elements of companies I, M, K and E (116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division) and supported by amphibious tanks on the beach and destroyers at sea. Armellino orders the platoon led by Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith to attack the bunkers of the Wn 61. Monteith climbs the cliff and then moves westwards while the rest of the company continues south towards Colleville-sur-Mer. Its section attacks the point of support and makes several prisoners; Since the beginning of the landing, Lieutenant Monteith regularly exposes himself to the enemy’s shots to guide his men forward. This time it is broken by an enemy gust. For his actions on Omaha Beach, Monteith is decorated with the medal of honor of the American Congress (Medal of Honor) posthumously. Armellino then headed for one of the Sherman Duplex Drive tanks in a supporting position to correct their shots. While he is steering the support, he is hit in the leg by a splinter of an anti-tank grenade that breaks the femoral artery, causing the loss of much blood: a nurse cares for him, applying Quickly a tourniquet (it is evacuated after dark). It is 1st Lieutenant Robert R. Cutler, Jr. who replaces it and it advances the 2nd and 3rd sections in head in direction of the heights of the valley of the Mills. They manage to do so without loss despite the minefields and are preparing to push back definitively the Germans who gravitate around the fulcrum Wn 61.
Due to shipping problems encountered in other areas of Omaha, several boats disembarked materials, vehicles or personnel on Fox Green and Fox Red. Fearing that this accumulation of resources in such a limited area would be destroyed by artillery fire, Commander L. C. Leever, commanding the 7th Naval Beach Battalion, ordered the temporary halt of landings on Omaha at approximately 0830 hours. This decision completely upsets the already complex planning of landings on the beaches and the foot soldiers already on the ground can not receive the artillery supports necessary for the progression in the interior, they can rely only on the naval guns.
On the plateau in front of Colleville-sur-Mer, the American soldiers headed inland, guided initially by Lieutenant Kenneth J. Klenk and then by Captain Kimball R. Richmond, commander of Company I, It arrives at the top of the plateau. While waiting to be reinforced by more soldiers, the infantrymen fixed the Germans who re-articulated themselves in order to form a new line of defense. The latter rely on a field very compartment favorable to the defensive combat. The destroyers’ bursts offer exceptional support for the infantrymen but the Americans are demanding that the shots be lifted in order to resume the advance. Shortly before 9 am, the Wn 61 is completely under control and 31 German soldiers are taken prisoners (15 of them are wounded). Captain Joseph Dawson’s G Company is progressing on the plateau west of the Valleuse des Moulins (E-3) and is heading towards its original goal: German dormitory buildings located several hundred meters to the west From Colleville-sur-Mer. Around 9:30 am, she starts the assault but is quickly confronted by the opponent’s heavy shots. For nearly two hours, the Americans fought a very short-range murderous fight until the Germans fell back: 12 soldiers of the F company were put out of action during this action. Two sections belonging to the 116th Infantry Regiment (29th Infantry Division) come in reinforcements and are ordered to remain in zone control in the dormitory buildings sector.
The resumption of the landing was ordered by Commander Leever at 10.30 am. Colonel George A. Taylor, the corps commander, noted that shots were being fired less precisely in the vicinity of the “E-3” exit. 16th IR, ordered the tanks still able to proceed to this crossing point to support the opening of the route. Meanwhile, Captain Dawson’s G Company continues to advance west towards Colleville-sur-Mer, while companies B and C are responsible for securing the southwestern edge of the village, where they meet many shooters isolated. The Germans managed to infiltrate on all sides (all the more easily because the two sections of the 116th IR left the dormitory sector for an unknown reason) and applied fires on company G: the Americans were set face to face Colleville-sur-Mer until the arrival of the 2nd Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment at 3 pm. However, not being able to seize Colleville-sur-Mer, the Allied navy triggers a new shot on the village. During the whole of the afternoon, the Americans moved to the road linking Colleville-sur-Mer to Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer to prevent the Germans from moving freely in the area. The 2nd battalion of the 18th IR is placed 500 meters to the southeast of Colleville-sur-Mer, a position that is reached in the early evening.
To the east of Colleville, the 3rd battalion of the 16th IR, also isolated, seized the exit “F-1” and set up several patrols to inform about the device of the adversary; A patrol launched towards the south towards the village of Cabourg discovers a German fulcrum and must go to the opponent. The battalion moves in the afternoon south-east towards the Grand-Hameau: totally isolated from the rest of the regiment, the battalion installs a defensive device for the night, reinforced by 17 Sherman tanks.
At 2100 hours, the 26th Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel John F. R. Seitz landed near the exit “E-3” three hours behind schedule. His 1st battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Francis J. Murdock, Jr, was placed on the left flank of 16th IR, east of the valley of the Mills (“E-3”). During the night, German patrols are numerous, notably to the south-east of Colleville-sur-Mer. The 2nd battalion of the 18th IR, installed in a ban in this sector, makes 150 prisoners and kills 50 German soldiers.
On June 7, 1944, in the early morning, the 2nd battalion of the 16th IR received the mission of seizing the houses of Colleville-sur-Mer. At 10 am, company G managed to reach the heart of the village without encountering insurmountable opposition: 57 German soldiers of the Grenadier-Regiment 726 were quickly taken prisoner. On the evening of June 7, the village is under control but snipers still manage to create a climate of insecurity in the area. It was not until June 8 and the end of the reorganization of the American units that Colleville-sur-Mer was definitely out of danger.
On June 10th, the installation of a military cemetery began on the plateau: the bodies of the fallen soldiers, who had been buried on the beach at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer in the temporary cemetery, were transferred.
From June 30th to July 13th, 1944, the 816th Engineer Aviation Battalion was in charge of building an aerodrome a kilometer south of Colleville-sur-Mer for the supply of troops, the transport of authorities and the evacuation of wounded. This airfield, operational until November 4, 1944, is named ALG A-22 C.