Surrain (Calvados)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 7th, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Drapeau américain 5th Ranger Battalion, 29th Infantry Division

Drapeau nazi Grenadier-Regiment 916, 352. Infanterie-Division


In the spring of 1944, the hamlet of Surrain was occupied by the 7th Company of the Grenadier-Regiment 916 (352. Infanterie-Division), which installed its command post there. The village is located near the road linking Bayeux to Isigny-sur-Mer, allowing the German company to move quickly if necessary.

The plan of attack of the 1st Infantry Division foresees that Surrain passes quickly under American control on D-Day. But the landing of June 6, 1944 considerably modified the plans allies in the sector of Omaha Beach: delayed on the beach of Colleville-sur-Mer by a deadly deluge of iron and steel, the 16th Infantry Regiment (IR) is unable to seize Surrain. At 12.20 pm, soldiers belonging to the 5th Ranger Battalion manage to cross the village but do not hold it. Facing enemy snipers, they continue west. The 18th Infantry Regiment, which has completed landing operations at 14:00, is ordered to relaunch the action and take over the initial objectives of the 16th IR. Lieutenant-Colonel Courtney P. Brown, commanding the 3rd battalion of the 18th IR, received the mission at 16:30 to seize the towns of Formigny and Surrain. But on the way, the Americans are delayed by groups of German soldiers who harass them and force them to stop their progress south of Colleville-sur-Mer.

The 1st battalion of the 18th IR is in turn directed towards Surrain but is also unable to gain more ground. US soldiers set up their defensive positions for the night at the top of the plateau, west of Colleville. At this moment of the fighting, there is no notion of front or precise positions of units: the Germans manage to infiltrate by the many covered and fix their opponents along the coastal strip all along the night.

At the first light of June 7th, the 3rd Battalion resumed its progression towards Surrain. Scattered units of the Grenadier-Regiment 916 hold a new line of defense along National Highway (RN) 13. The Americans reach and release Surrain at 12:15, and then restart towards the RN 13 which is finally reached towards 17:00. German snipers regularly sow panic in the opposing ranks and significantly delay the advance of US forces. Lieutenant-Colonel Courtney P. Brown’s infantry continued their difficult reconnaissance as far as Mandeville-en-Bessin.

On the afternoon of June 7, Gustave Joret, an agricultural worker, was interrogated by American soldiers of the Civil Affairs. While giving information on the German positions and supply points, an artillery fire occurs: he is wounded trying to reach a shelter and dies of his wounds on June 12, 1944.

Map of Surrain:

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