14 June, 2011

14 June, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
14 June, 1944

Dearest sweetheart –

Again I can write you just a few lines with not much in the line of news, I know, but just to let you now that everything is well with me. I hope you are not worrying too much, darling, although I know a certain amount would be natural these days. But honestly, dear, I’m comfortable, relaxed, eating and sleeping regularly and taking things in stride.

That’s all for now, sweetheart. I think of you constantly and find great solace in the thought of our love for each other – for which I am ever thankful. Give my love to the folks, dear.

All my love to you
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about -Day plus 8


On 14 June, VII Corps launched an offensive to seize the badly needed port facilities at Cherbourg. There was much to do to get there.

In the West, the American forces moved towards the north of Utah Beach. The 9th Infantry Division, near the 4th Infantry Division, was ordered to liberate the town of Quinéville, home of Germany's Regional Headquarter. With the capture of Quinéville on 14 June, the enemy's main line in the North was broken, depriving him of his best natural defense against the advancing northern flank. The capture of Quinéville and the clearing of the coast to the south also helped to speed the landing of supplies and personnel for VII Corps. In the early days of the landings German artillery had prevented the use of the Navy pontoon causeway built on D plus 1, and difficulties in beaching landing craft and in the functioning of the ferry control organization had resulted in a lag in unloading of about thirty-six hours.

Cherbourg, which was to be under the Ally control on June 14th according to the May 1944 plans, was still far away. But the 9th American Infantry Division progressed all the same towards Valognes, despite heavy losses while the men of the 82nd Airborne Division attacked in direction of the village of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. Here is a description of the action of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 82nd Airborne Division to take Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, beginning on 14 June, as written by Pat Curran for DdayHistorian.com:
On Wednesday, 14th June the attack to take St.-Sauveur-le-Vicomte began from a jump off west of Etienville. This phase of the 505th Normandy campaign lasted for four days. The attack commenced at 9:30am on Wednesday 14th June with the 507 PIR in the lead and the 505th in Division reserve following behind. The two paratroop regiments advanced westward on the north of Etienville to St.-Sauveur-le-Vicomte Road.

To the 507th's right was the U.S. 9th Infantry, which overall was an experienced Division, having seen action in North Africa. However, some of its regiments had no battle experience at all. On the left flank and south of the road was the 2nd Battalion 401st Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), attached to the 325th GIR. The 507th had suffered huge losses prior to this attack. It's 1st Battalion numbered just over 100 men, and fewer still by the time it reached the eastern outskirts of La Bonneville that night. The day had seen ferocious fighting on both sides of the road with the 2nd Battalion 401st GIR eventually pulling up in line with the 507th PIR as dusk fell on Wednesday night.

During the final leg of Company E, 401st's advance, the night became dark from overcast sky. Unbelievably, a German squad, by-passed during the day by the Americans, heard Company E troopers talking indistinctly through a hedgerow and thinking they were German troops, fell in behind the marching column. They only realized their mistake when the column halted and began to dig in. The German squad wisely surrendered without a fight!

Meanwhile, northeast of the city of Bayeux, on the beach of Courseulles, General Charles de Gaulle, chief of the Free French Army, landed after crossing the English Channel aboard the destroyer "La Combattante", a ship of the Free French Navy.
DeGaulle walking in Couseulles, 14 June 1944

He met General Montgomery at his Headquarters at the castle of Creuilly. He then went to Bayeux, liberated on June 7, where an immense crowd applauded him and sang the "Marseillaise". He moved on to the towns of Isigny-sur-Mer and Grandcamp at the end of the afternoon, pressed by the Allies to come back as quickly as possible.
Creully Castle, Montgomery's Headquarters, France

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