16 June, 2011

16 June 1944

No letter today. Just this:


about The VII Corps and the Cherbourg Campaign

On the 16th of June, the 438th AAA AW Bn (M) was assigned the task of defending two vital bridges on the main supply line which had just been established at St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte. They were also assigned to defend VII Corps Artillery for the cutting of German forces on the Cherbourg Peninsula and the attack on Cherbourg. Greg's unit was certainly in the thick of it...

On the afternoon of 15 June General Collins announced: "The major effort of the Corps is now to cut the peninsula." By this time the advance westward had progressed sufficiently so that the entire effort could be focused toward that end. For 16 June General Collins ordered an attack all along the line from the Douve River to Gourbesville. The 82d Airborne Division was to continue toward St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte. Developments in the vicinity of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte suddenly changed the whole tempo of the battle. The 82d Airborne and 9th Division units jumped off at various times between 0500 and 0800 on the morning of 16 June, but it was the attack of the 325th Glider Infantry, Regiment (GIR) assisted by tanks of Company A, 746th Tank Battalion, which touched off the complete rout of the remaining enemy units east of the Douve and paced the 2-division drive to the Douve line.

At noon three regiments -- the 325th GIR, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment(PIR), and the 508th PIR which had joined the other two -- were poised on the east bank of the river overlooking the town of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte. From this position the enemy could be observed withdrawing from the town. General Ridgway, realizing the possibilities of the situation, asked Corps'permission to cross the river into town and establish a bridgehead. Meanwhile he had the artillery deliver harrassing fire on the roads leading north, west, and south from the town. The 1st Battalion, 325th GIR, was alerted to cross the river and cut the road to the southwest. An hour after the Corps commander had approved General Ridgway's request, elements of the division were crossing the river, meeting little resistance. By dark a firm bridgehead was established and secured with a perimeter defense 2,000 to 2,500 yards out from the town. Engineers bridged the Douve and tanks entered the town that evening.

The events at St. Sauveur-le Vicomte were a turning point in the whole drive westward. The success of the 82d Airborne Division gave such impetus to the 9th Division's attack that it gathered a momentum which carried it swiftly across the peninsula.

Most of the pictures below come from: PhotosNormandie's Flickr Photostream.

Aerial view of Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte looking west.
In the foreground can be seen bomb craters, the Douve River and
its bridges. At the bottom right 2 trucks head toward Valogne.
The top center road leads to Portbail and across the picture
is the train line between Cherbourg and La Haye du Puits.

. Pontoon bridge constructed by American military
engineers near Saint Sauveur-Le-Vicomte

Robert Capa © International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

Ruins in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.
In this devastated neighborhood, one
house was somehow left intact.

American soldiers shovel up the debris on
today's Rue du Vieux Château in
 Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte.

These GIs shovel the wreckage of a collapsed house
on Rue Bottin-Desylles, next to a Renault garage in
Saint Souveur-le-Vicomte. 
The Hôtel de la Victoire is destroyed. An American soldier
walks down shat is now Rue du Vieux Château
after it was dug out in Saint Sauveur le Vicomte.

Soldiers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne, accompanied
by a jeep, walk down what is now Rue du Vieux Château.
Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte is in ruins, 16 June 1944.

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