29 June, 2011

29 June, 1944

No letter today. Just this:

* TIDBIT *

about The VII Corps and the "Southout" of Normandy

While the main American effort was being made to capture Cherbourg and to clear the Cotentin area, German forces assembling south of Carentan were using the period of inactivity in that sector to prepare a strong defensive line across the base of the peninsula. Breaking through this defense was the next phase of the invasion for VII Corps.

On 29 June 1944, those German defenders from the port of Cherbourg who had refused to surrender the day before, finally understood that they had lost and further resistance was futile. The repair work of the harbor installations started but it was likely to take much time, perhaps even several weeks, before being able to use this deep water harbor, considered vital for the allied troops. For the Allies, preparations for the Battle of France was now going into high gear. Armored divisions and heavy artillery began arriving. Air bases were moved from England to the continent. An army capable of splitting the Wehrmacht wide open was landing in France.

The breakthrough was to be made on a sector south of Carentan. This meant clearing rugged terrain, full of marshes and swampy rivers -- ground ideal for defense. Germans had dug in for a permanent stay with entrenchments in every hedgerow. To reach firm ground where armored armies could operate, it was necessary to fight through that swamp country. The job was assigned to VII Corps. The 4th Infantry Division was in the star role. And Greg's unit would be right in it, as can be seen in the map below, showing the roads from Rocheville (A) to St. Come du Mont (B), the next town mentioned in The Route of the Question Mark.



[Click to enlarge, Back Arrow to return.]

The 4th Infantry Division men, with whom the 438th had traveled, had fought 23 days without rest, driving ahead relentlessly until victory was won. Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, VII Corps Commander, in commending the division following the campaign, said:
It is a tribute to the devotion of the men of the division that severe losses in no way deterred their aggressive action. The division has been faithful to its honored dead. The 4th Infantry Division can rightly be proud of the great part that it played from the initial landing on Utah Beach to the very end of the Cherbourg campaign. I wish to express my tremendous admiration.

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