Two nights running now my first opportunity for writing has been just before dark. We were busy today – some of our outfit finally caught up with us. Among them was my driver and our jeep, darling, the one with WILMA painted on the front – in old English letters if you please. I’ll now be able to get around more easily.
|Greg with his driver|
I had the rare opportunity of snatching a hot shower tonight – early. The engineers discovered a set of showers in a neighboring town and rigged it up. It was wonderful! Strange what we get pleasure from nowadays. All for now – sweetheart – will try to write tomorrow.
|The Route of the Question Mark|
June 27... Rocheville, where the Residue caught up with the Advance Party, only to be greeted like step-children by the heroes of the attack on Cherbourg, and where we climbed a ladder leading to a hay-loft to see a movie, Danny Kaye in UP IN ARMS.
Excerpts from UTAH Beach to Cherbourg (6 June - 27 June 1944) follow:
The surrender of the arsenal at approximately 1000, 27 June, brought to an end all organized resistance in the city of Cherbourg. Except for the outlying forts along the jetties and breakwater, where small enemy groups still held out, all of the port and city was now occupied. Over 10,000 prisoners had been captured in the preceding day and a half, including 2,600 patients and the staffs of two hospitals. The arsenal yielded 50 sides of beef and 300 sides of pork, which gave the VII Corps its first fresh meat in a month.
[Click to enlarge. Back Arrow to return here.]
For the Americans, 27 June marked the achievement of the first major objective of Operation NEPTUNE. In the final drive on Cherbourg some of the enemy forces had withdrawn to strong positions both east and west of the port city. On 26-27 June, while the final fighting was taking place in the city, the 22d Infantry pushed eastward and captured the last enemy strongholds in Cap Lévy. What still remained was to clear the enemy from outlying forts and the cape west of Cherbourg, and to put the great port into working order. Two days were now consumed in reducing the remaining harbor forts with dive-bombing and tank destroyer fire.
Meanwhile the 9th Division prepared to drive into the Cap de la Hague area, where an estimated 3,000 Germans were thought to have retreated for a last stand. Between 29 June and 1 July the 9th Division was engaged in heavy fighting, but there was never any doubt about the successful and speedy outcome of the operation. The last organized enemy defense line between Vauville and Gruchy was cracked by the assault of the 60th and 47th Infantry Regiments on 30 June. In the final clean-up more than 6,000 Germans were captured. At 1500, 1 July, the 9th Division reported to VII Corps that all organized resistance had ceased.
The campaign thus ended had cost heavily, despite an unexpectedly easy beginning in the weakly opposed landing on UTAH Beach, and it had fallen behind the schedule set in the NEPTUNE Plan. In the fight for its objective VII Corps suffered a total of over 22,000 casualties, including 2,800 killed, 5,700 missing, and 13,500 wounded. The Germans had lost 39,000 captured in addition to an undetermined number of killed and wounded. Cherbourg was captured on D plus 21, and the last enemy were cleared from the peninsula on D plus 22.
From the German point of view, however, the fall of Cherbourg came much sooner than expected and represented a major defeat which foreshadowed the evacuation of France and the loss of the war. The conquest of the Cotentin Peninsula did not immediately break German defenses in the west or irrevocably insure a quick Allied victory. A month of hard fighting in the same type of difficult Normandy terrain lay ahead. Nevertheless, the end of June saw the disappearance of the last slim chance the enemy may have had to dislodge the Allied foothold on France, and he was faced with what would become a hopeless battle of attrition in which Allied armies were to build up an irresistible superiority of men and matériel and strike out of Normandy for their sweep through France.