Liberation of Saint-Lô-d’Ourville in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy

Saint-Lô-d’Ourville (Manche)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: July 6th, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 746th Tank Battalion

Drapeau nazi Kampfgruppe Bacherer, 77. Infanterie Division

Drapeau nazi 265. Infanterie-Division

History:

On June 6, 1944, Allied aviation carried out a multitude of bombing missions aimed at delaying the engagement of reinforcements towards the landing beaches. One of the objectives of the 388th Fighter Squadron (365th Fighter Group) is to render unusable the railway track connecting Carteret to La Haye-du-Puits: during this attack on the ground, the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber piloted by Lieutenant Jack J. Martell is hit by one of his own bombs that explodes immediately after the drop. The plane crashed at a place called La Charpenterie, on the territory of the municipality of Saint-Lô-d’Ourville, killing the American pilot.

A few days later, the 7th American Corps of General Collins receives the mission to recognize up to the western seafront to isolate German troops north of the Cotentin. While awaiting the arrival of the troops on the ground, the bombers target the supply points along the coast as well as the munitions and fuel depots between Portbail and Saint-Lô-d’Ourville.

On June 17, 1944, the 9th Infantry Division of Major General Manton S. Eddy managed to install a bridgehead west of the Douve River, near Sainte-Colombe, just as the 82nd Airborne Division is performing its reconnaissance in the Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte area, further south. This natural barrier is now behind them, the Americans have the free field to join the west coast of Cotentin. The division of General Eddy is ordered to simultaneously seize Portbail and Barneville-sur-Mer. The 47th Infantry Regiment of Colonel George W. Smythe crosses Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte and progresses with two front battalions following the route of the current departmental 15 (D15) in handrail (the 2nd battalion to the north, the 3rd battalion to the south): fifteen kilometers separate the Americans from the coast.

On the evening of June 17, the 1st battalion reaches Huanville and the coastal road connecting Barneville-sur-Mer to La Haye-du-Puits, while the 3rd battalion secures the left flank of the regiment, near the hamlet Carmesnil. A real race against time begins: the Americans are trying to permanently stop the Germans from using the coastal road, which can still be easily bypassed. Dozens of armored vehicles and artillery guns belonging to the 77. Infanterie Division are destroyed during the crossing attempts. The next day, June 18, the 2nd battalion secures the crossroads located one kilometer north-east of Saint-Lô-d’Ourville, between the D15 and the D903 (coastal road). The loss of this neuralgic axis, the last umbilical cord between the north and the south of the Cotentin, is a blow that isolates heavily the German forces. The Americans, who are not in sufficient numbers to monitor the entire perimeter, focus on crossing points of the Olonde River.

On the same day, the 47th Infantry Regiment was relieved from position by the 357th Infantry Regiment (90th Infantry Division). The Germans take advantage of this period of floating between the relief of the two regiments to force the American device which is not completely hermetic. The 357th IR Americans hold the front line along the Olonde during the siege of Cherbourg, repelling many German counter-attacks directed north. A long war of position fixes the adversaries of both camps. On June 22, they in turn launch an attack aimed at causing more losses in the opposing ranks, but without managing to hold Saint-Lô-d’Ourville which is abandoned to the Germans. On 30 June, after long days of heavy attacks and bombings, the regiment was relieved of position by the 315th Infantry Regiment (79th Infantry Division), which in turn defended the front line.

It was not until July 6 that the Americans of the 315th Infantry Regiment finally liberate Saint-Lô-d’Ourville, after the withdrawal of the Germans to the south.

Map of Saint-Lô-d’Ourville:

 

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