Liberation of Sainte-Colombe in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy

Sainte-Colombe (Manche)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 17th, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Drapeau américain B Company, 746th Tank Battalion

Drapeau nazi Grenadier-Regiment 1058, 91. Infanterie Division


A week after the landing, when US forces begin their movement to cut the German lines in two in the Cotentin, they realize that they must first cross the natural barrier of the river Douve, before reaching the west Cotentin. The 7th Corps of General Collins selects several crossing points between Sainte-Colombe and Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. These two communes thus become the objectives of the American divisions under his command.

Major General Manton S. Eddy’s 9th Infantry Division is responsible for seizing Sainte-Colombe and crossing points over the River Douve. Eddy orders Colonel Frederick J. de Rohan, commanding officer of the 60th Infantry Regiment (IR), to launch his battalions forward and take the Germans out of the air to prevent them from sabotaging the bridges. The regiment, south of the spindle of the division, progresses on a very compartmentalized ground, favorable to the defenders. Despite these tactical difficulties, the 60th IR exceeds Reigneville-Bocage on June 15th, when the infantry companies, supported by the 2nd platoon of the B Company, 746th Tank Battalion, neutralize a complete German platoon. US reports indicate that some corpses were unarmed and officers standing back prevented them from fleeing by forcing them to fight at all costs.

On June 16, 1944, the 60th IR immediately secured the bridge over the Douve to the west of the village of Sainte-Colombe, at a place called La Laiterie. This one is intact, the Germans having not had time to destroy it. In the early afternoon, the 47th Infantry Regiment of Colonel George W. Smythe is ordered to seize Sainte-Colombe and Golleville: his 3rd battalion reaches the crossroads between places called La Loge and Les Hauts-Vents in the evening, about a kilometer away from Sainte-Colombe. But at the same time, further east, the 39th IR faces a formidable German resistance that prevents it from seizing Orglandes. General Eddy, who in this situation is not fully able to use his artillery without risking fratricidal fire, orders the 47h IR to cover the catch Orglandes by prohibiting the axes likely to be used for the refueling or reinforcement of the Germans. This decision momentarily postpones the final decision of the village of Sainte-Colombe.

On the night of June 16-17, the German defenders, almost surrounded by the enemy, deemed their position untenable and decided to retreat west of the river Douve taking advantage of the darkness to infiltrate through the 60th IR lines. At dawn on June 17, the 3rd battalion of the 47th IR secures Sainte-Colombe and resumes its progress towards Néhou.


Map of Sainte-Colombe:


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