Liberation of Cricqueville-en-Bessin in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy

Cricqueville-en-Bessin (Calvados)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 7th, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 2nd Ranger Battalion, 29th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 5th Ranger Battalion, 29th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 29th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized), 29th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 175th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Drapeau américain 743rd Tank Battalion

Drapeau américain 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion

Drapeau américain 354th Fighter Group (353rd Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Squadron)

Drapeau américain 367th Fighter Group (392nd Fighter Squadron, 393rd Fighter Squadron, 394th Fighter Squadron)

Drapeau américain IX Engineer Command

Drapeau nazi 2/Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie 1260

Drapeau nazi III/Grenadier-Regiment 726, 716. Infanterie-Division

History:

The lands of the commune of Cricqueville-en-Bessin welcome a German coastal battery from the year 1942 to the location of the locality of the Pointe du Hoc, a position enhanced by concrete constructions from February 1944. The village Since then, there have been regular Allied aerial bombardments, which intensified from April to the beginning of June 1944. To deceive the Allied airmen, the Germans built a dummy battery just a few hundred meters west of the Hoc, consisting of tanks arranged on the same model. The sector is under the responsibility of the 12th Company of the Grenadier-Regiment 726 (716. Infanterie-Division).

On the night of June 5 to 6, US paratroopers of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (101st Airborne Division) were accidentally dropped between Grandcamp-les-Bains and Cricqueville, fifteen kilometers from their planned drop zone. Lost and isolated, some find refuge with the inhabitant, while others hide themselves near the site of the battery of the Hoc while waiting for the arrival of the dismounted troops.

On June 6, D-Day, the Americans of the 2nd Ranger Battalion climb the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and establish a defensive perimeter on the outer edge of the battery in the early afternoon: companies E and F set up combat positions in the hedges overlooking the place called La Montagne. Contrary to the initial plan that ordered the Rangers to seize Maisy’s battery and then to fall on guard in Osmanville, Lieutenant-Colonel Rudder wants to wait for reinforcements from Omaha Beach. From his position north of La Montagne, Sergeant William L. Petty (F Company) repels several German patrols with his Browning Automatic Rifle and inflicts no less than thirty casualties to the enemy. Meanwhile, a patrol composed of 1st Sergeant Leonard G. Lomell and Staff Sergeant Jack E. Kuhn (D Company) discovers five guns, camouflaged behind a hedge. Dozens of German soldiers are present, about a hundred meters further south. The young American sergeant gives his orders: his comrade must observe the German positions while he throws two grenades on the first two pieces. These grenades, also called “thermites”, produce an aluminothermic chemical reaction that melts the surrounding metal. Lomell destroys the sighting systems of the other howitzers with the butt of his Thompson submachine gun, wrapped in his jacket to limit the noise. After successfully completing this operation, the patrol retraces its steps to retrieve additional grenades in order to complete the work. Ten minutes later, the action is over and the two Rangers retreat immediately.
During the day of June 6, dozens of 5th Battalion Rangers managed to cross enemy lines from Omaha, reinforcing Lieutenant-Colonel Rudder’s force.

On the night of June 6 to 7, between 11:30 pm and 3 am, the Germans launched three successive counter-attacks on the positions of company E. Faced with the intensification of these offensives, all the Rangers retreat from 3 am at the site of the battery of Pointe du Hoc, where they continue to wait for the reinforcements from Omaha.

It was not until June 8 that the American infantrymen of the 175th Infantry Regiment (29th Infantry Division) realize the recognition of the commune of Cricqueville, abandoned by the Germans. The latter fall back towards Isigny-sur-Mer. Starting at 8 pm, the village welcomes the staff of the 29th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (29th Infantry Division) for the night, before the pursuit of reconnaissance towards the municipalities of Saint-Pierre-du-Mont, Grandcamp-les-Bains, Cardonville and La Cambe. The Americans of the 29th Cavalry leave Cricqueville as of noon on June 9th.

On June 9th, the American sappers of the 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion begin the construction of an aerodrome called ALG A-2. Completed on June 22, the 1,524-meter (5,000-foot) runway accommodates the squadrons of the 354th Fighter Group and the 367th Fighter Group. The aerodrome is operational until September 15, 1944.

On June 12, 1944, Cricqueville receives a quick visit from General Officers (including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, SHAEF, General of the Army George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, or Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, commander of the 1st Army Group) who inspect the surroundings of the Pointe du Hoc, with in particular the position of howitzers found south of the German battery. They mark a halt at the temporary command post of the 1st US Army located near a farmhouse of the locality called La Montagne, before going to Isigny-sur-Mer.

Map of Cricqueville-en-Bessin:

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