Cities of Normandy during the 1944
Liberation: June 20th, 1944
314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
During the Occupation, the Germans began in 1943 the construction of a gigantic site of assembly and launching of V2 rockets, on the lands of the commune of Sottevast. This project was named Reservelager West (RLW) and had impressive dimensions: the main building, which was supposed to contain about forty V2 rockets, was 92 meters long, 75 meters wide and 28 meters high, with a wall thickness of over 4 meters. All the buildings on the site require more than 118,000 m3 of concrete. This project is also known as Sottevast-Brix, given the proximity of the site to the Brix municipality.
The Allies, informed by aerial reconnaissance flights, understood the purpose of the construction site on October 20, 1943. They decided to slow down the work as much as possible by regularly bombing the site: the Allies wanted at all costs to avoid the saturation of the V2 rockets in the south of England, where they were preparing to mass the troops and equipment for Operation Overlord. The first bombing mission against the Sottevast site was organized on 26 November 1943. Ten raids followed, from 8 February to 8 May 1944: a total of 723 tons of bombs were dropped by 301 Allied aircraft. This relentlessness paid off: the Germans interrupted the work and the site was never built.
On 19 June 1944, the Americans of the 79th Infantry Division experienced their baptism of fire south-west of Sottevast. Advancing in the direction of Cherbourg while following the route of the present National Road 13, they pushed the German defenses, which proved unable to slow down the Americans.
On the morning of June 20th, the 314th Infantry Regiment (IR) commanded by Colonel Warren A. Robinson liberated Sottevast and then Sottevast. Robinson liberated Sottevast and then continued on to Saint-Martin-le-Gréard. The 1st Battalion of the 314th IR discovered the abandoned RLW site. The initial reports of the American infantrymen testify of the extraordinary character of the site: they mention a “platform for robot planes”.