The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles
Liberation: June 8th, 1944
2nd Ranger Battalion, 29th Infantry Division
5th Ranger Battalion, 29th Infantry Division
175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
743rd Tank Battalion
49th Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Special Engineer Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
I./Grenadier-Regiment 914, 352. Infanterie-Division
In the spring of 1944, the village of Osmanville was occupied by German troops belonging to the 1st company of the Grenadier-Regiment 914 (352. Infanterie-Division): the unit installed its command post, dislodging several Norman from their homes on this occasion. This municipality occupies an interesting geographical position from a tactical point of view, being located on a high point dominating the surroundings, close to the crossroads of the national road 13 and the secondary road of great communication 32 or GC 32 (today: departmental road 514). Due to the presence of the swamps of the Aure, flooded, Osmanville becomes a point of passage also allowing access to Isigny-sur-Mer.
It is logical that the Allies integrate Osmanville into their D-Day planning: this village becomes the final reaching point for the American Rangers of the 2nd Ranger Battalion (29th Infantry Division). Indeed, after their landing at the pointe du Hoc and taking the Maisy battery, they must travel the 14 kilometers separating them from Osmanville through the enemy lines and prohibit the crossroads of the RN13 and GC 32 in the end of day. Once this position is reached, they must prevent reinforcements from imprinting GC 32, the fastest route to reach the landing beach called “Omaha Beach“, from Vierville-sur-Mer to Colleville-sur-Mer.
On June 6, 1944, an Avro Lancaster bomber belonging to 97th Bomber Squadron (No. 5 Group) was shot down by a German fighter Focke-Wulf Fw 190 while participating in a raid targeting the battery of the pointe du Hoc: it crushes around 5 am on the territory of the commune of Osmanville, near the church of the hamlet Saint-Clément. The following seven crewmembers were killed in the crash: Lieutenant Finn Varde Jespersen (Norwegian pilot), Flying Officer William Robert McCutcheon (Gunner, Canadian), Sergeant Gerald John James Ashpole (Mechanic, English, buried at the cemetery of St. Clement), Sergeant Jon Ernst Herlof Evensen (machine gunner, Norwegian), Knut Baade Magnus (Norwegian crew), Sergeant Christian Andreas Münster (navigator, Norwegian) and Sergeant Kare Pederson (Norwegian).
After landing at pointe du Hoc and taking the German battery on top of the natural promontory, the Rangers under Lt. Col. Earl Rudder did not leave the position and abandoned the idea of joining Osmanville on D-Day as agreed despite orders received while driving. The Germans take advantage of this to develop their positions and deploy antitank means oriented towards the north and east, prohibiting the crossing of the road towards Isigny-sur-Mer.
It was not until the evening of June 8 that American forces of the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 175th Infantry Regiment (29th Infantry Division), from Cardonville and Saint-Germain-du-Pert, reached the outskirts of Osmanville with the support of Sherman tanks from the 743rd Tank Battalion. Around 7 pm, two companies of the 175th Infantry Regiment begin the reconnaissance of the commune. Lieutenant Allsup of Company A of the 175th Infantry Regiment discovers that the Osmanville road is blocked by the Germans with the help of an anti-tank gun: he takes back the position and the German defenders retreat to Isigny, abandoning the commune to Americans. The latter settled on the defensive for the night near the town and are preparing to resume the progression at dawn.
On the evening of June 9, the 5th Battalion Rangers set up west of Osmanville where they recovered after three trying days of fighting. They are joined around 8 pm by the survivors of the 2nd Battalion. On the night of 9 to 10 June, a German plane randomly drops a few bombs in the area, preventing Americans from fully recovering from their emotions.
From July 10 to 16, 1944, American sappers belonging to the 49th Engineer Combat Battalion (4th Infantry Division) set up their bivouac in the north-east of the town to take part in the demining, maintenance of structures and repairs of roads in the area.
Map of Saint-Pierre-du-Mont: