Liberation of Orglandes in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy

Orglandes (Manche)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 17th, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 1/39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 79th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain B Company, 746th Tank Battalion

Drapeau américain 603rd Quartermaster Graves Registration Company

Drapeau nazi Grenadier-Regiment 1058, 91. Infanterie Division

History:

A week after the landing, the Americans seek to cut the Cotentin Peninsula in two in order to isolate the German troops defending Cherbourg, joining as quickly as possible the west coastline. They decided to move towards Barneville-Carteret, with the intermediate objective of securing crossing points on the Douve River between Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte and Sainte-Colombe.

On June 14, 1944, the 359th Infantry Regiment (90th Infantry Division) was ordered to seize the municipality of Orglandes, the last obstacle before Sainte-Colombe. But the division is engaged in the difficult decision of Gourbesville: the German resistance, as well as the problems of coordination in the allied ranks, delay the tempo of the American global offensive. The 359th Infantry Regiment bypasses Gourbesville from the south and continues towards Orglandes. Defense is favored by a very compartmentalized terrain, where anti-tank weapons can cause significant damage to the assailant. On June 15, the German infantry attacked east of the town. One of them manages to infiltrate as close as possible to a Sherman tank of company B (commanded by Captain Pay) of the 746th Tank Battalion he is aiming with his grenades: one of them enters the turret of Lieutenant Kogut. The latter manages in extremis to throw them out of his tank, until Sergeant Garcia, in support with his armored, manages to neutralize the German soldier. The Americans cease the progression again and are on guard at the place called Les Tourelles.

The next day, June 16, the 1st Battalion 39th Infantry Regiment (9th Infantry Division) was ordered to restart its action and seize Orglandes, supported by the tanks of the third platoon of the B Company, 746th Tank Battalion. The tanks approached about 800 meters southeast of the village and opened fire on homes, particularly targeting the bell tower that allows the Germans to observe the progress of the enemy and guide artillery fire. Faced with a fierce defense of German forces, the Americans do not succeed in repelling the Germans who hold the village firmly. At 19:00, two companies of 39th Infantry Regiment (IR) launch a new attack after restocking their fighters in ammunition. Lieutenant Rainer’s tank platoon supports the assault on the infantrymen, but one of the tanks is destroyed by a mine during the maneuver.

If the Americans manage to commit themselves inside Orglandes before dark, the Germans repel them using heavy machine-gun fire. Unable to pin down the exact outline of their opponent, the 1st battalion of the 39th IR breaks contact and settles for the night just a few hundred meters southeast of the town, north and south of the locality Le Hare bridge. At the same time, the Americans managed to progress and the village of Sainte-Colombe is overtaken by the 60th IR (9th Infantry Division): for the Germans who have suffered heavy losses, the situation is untenable: in favor of the At night, most of their troops leave Orglandes and retreat west of the River Douve on a new line of defense.

At dawn on June 17, the Americans unleashed a powerful artillery fire on Orglandes, before relaunching 39th IR A and B companies to attack at 07:30. This time, the village definitely falls into the hands of the attackers and the last pockets of resistance fall before noon. On June 18, 1944, the 79th Infantry Division established its divisional command post in the village of Orglandes.

In the wake of the fighting, June 20, 1944, the Allies decided to centralize the remains of fighters sector (both Germans and Americans) in a military cemetery north of Orglandes. The 603rd Quartermaster Graves Registration Company is in charge of this mission. From 1945, the US administration repatriated part of its military in the United States and moved the others in Normandy cemeteries in Saint-James and Colleville-sur-Mer. 7,358 German remains rest in Orglandes at this time. In 1954, the centralization of German military corps buried throughout the Cotentin led to a total of 10 152 corps. The memorial infrastructures currently in place at the cemetery were inaugurated on September 20, 1961.

Map of Orglandes :

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