Thursday, June 29, 1944

The days that marked the Battle of Normandy

The operation Epsom continues east of Caen. The Scots of the 15th Infantry Division secured the area around Gravus, but the German Panzer Lehr pitted a very strong resistance and attacked the 2nd Argyll battalion in this village. Hard fights take place and the Scots owe their salvation only to the systematic intervention of the Allied air forces who take advantage of the weather and their great superiority in the air. The German tanks were annihilated by allied planes, which constantly harassed enemy movements.

The 11th British Armored Division, which has been retreating since the evening before, leaves the strategic position of Hill 112. Lieutenant-General Dempsey fears a massive counterattack of the Hitlerjugend and prefers to order the tanks of the 11th Armored Division to fold back on the left bank of the Odon river. Only the men of the 4th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry defend the position. The Germans take advantage of the opportunity to take Hill 112 point again, and hand-to-hand fights take place again. The bodies of the belligerents strew the banks of the Odon river and the battlefields in the vicinity of Hill 112. The spectacle is atrocious, the losses are terrifying. Several thousand British soldiers (more than 4,000 on the evening of 29 June) have been put out of action since the beginning of operation Epsom, which began on 25 June. Montgomery is worried about the turn of his operation and thinks then about a possible stop of Epsom in the days that follow.

On the American side, the 7th Corps of General Collins eliminates the last points of resistance in the city of Cherbourg which is now entirely in the hands of the American soldiers. Repairs to port facilities are beginning, but this may take a long time, perhaps even weeks, before the port can be used in deep water, vital to Allied troops.

North of Saint-Lô, “punch” attacks in the Bois de Bretel region against German defensive positions by the 115th US Infantry Regiment continued. The Allies advance centimeters by centimeters, at the price of a great effort, through the grove and the Norman hedges, impassable fortresses .

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