15 July, 2011

15 July, 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
15 July, 1944

Dearest sweetheart –

I thought it was settled. Of course we’ll be married immediately after the war! I see no sense in waiting. I certainly am not going to wait to see how things are, how I’ll do, what my income will be – etc. You’ll just have to take a chance, darling. We’ll have a nucleus to start with – most important of which will be that I did practice in Salem once before and secondly – I am still a member of the staff at the Hospital.

Was glad to read you had received the books on England – particularly the ones concerning Sherborne. Was afraid they might hold out the latter because I was still in England when I mailed it.

Everything here going along swell. Was at the hospital again yesterday and again got plenty to do. Other advantages of being with the hospital are 1) Shower facilities and 2) Laundry – both of which I was doing without.

No mail yesterday – but maybe today. Keep hoping for that early finish to all this, sweetheart – and before we know it – it will all be over. Love to all –

All my love to you


about Preparing for Operation Cobra

First Army Front Movement from 8 to 15 July 1944
VIII Corps on the left, VII Corps in the middle, XIX Corps on the right

This is an excerpt from the War Department's Historical Division's American Forces in Action Series, entitled "St-Lô (7 Jul - 19 July 1944)":
In the VII Corps zone, the 4th and 83d Divisions continued to shoulder along the Carentan-Périers highway, more and more aided by the pressure exerted from the east by the 9th Division. On 13 July, that unit had driven nearly to the important crossroads at les Champs-de-Losque. By 15 July, as a result of the hardest kind of fighting, the 4th and 83d were on a line just north of Raids and held the Sainteny hills which had been their main obstacle. But ahead of them the enemy still held strong defensive positions, and had shown no signs of making a voluntary withdrawal. The cost to VII Corps of getting some six square miles of ground along its peninsula had been high. From 9 to 16 July, the corps lost 4,800 men; by 15 July the three regiments of the 4th Division had suffered 2,300 casualties, including three battalion commanders and nine rifle company commanders.

First Army now called a halt to the offensive west of the Taute River, holding VIII and VII Corps (except for the 9th Division) at the positions reached on 14-15 July. Definite plans for the major breakthrough, Operation Cobra, were being made, the outline plan having reached First Army on 13 July. While terrain and the enemy had halted the drive of the VII Corps, the attack did achieve some of it’s goals. By moving the front several miles south of Carentan it stabilized the area and prevented the Germans from shelling the town and the vital crossroads. Further it prevented the Germans from launching a counterattack in this area - considered the weakest on the entire front - and had inflicted serious losses on the Germans, losses they could not replace.

The Taute River, Normandy (in 2006)

The offensive which had been under way was to continue, but would aim at more modest objectives which would give suitable jump-off positions for Cobra. The primary goal became the ground along the St-Lô-Périers highway in front of the 9th and 30th Divisions. At the end of 15 July, the 30th Division was to come under VII Corps in order to coordinate the continuing offensive toward this area. The 4th and 83rd Divisions passed to the VIII Corps in a front-wide reorganization.

During the 12 days from 4 to 15 July, ammunition expenditure had been greater than at any other period during the first two months of First Army's campaign. This occurred during a period when control was being exercised and unrestricted firing was not permitted, when units were limited to one unit of fire for attack, one-half unit for each subsequent day of attack, and one-third for a "normal" day. But deeper and wider concentrations of fire than was ordinary had to be employed in hedgerow country to compensate for lack of observation. Stocks became low in certain types, particularly 105-mm howitzer, and strict rationing was established to restore the stocks for the coming operations.

Fortunately, the port of Cherbourg, although thoroughly mined and demolished by the Germans, had been rapidly cleared for use. The first supplies from it began to trickle south on 15 July. Cherbourg was to prove an essential aid to the supply problem in the next weeks. But the main ports of entry were still the open beaches, Omaha and Utah, where the 1st, 5th, and 6th Engineer Special Brigades were performing miracles in getting tonnage ashore under all conditions of weather. A daily average of 12,000 to 14,000 tons was being maintained.
Front and Back of German Newspaper dated 15 July 1944
[Click on an image to enlarge, Back Arrow to return]

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