You know that’s a real French word. Some of the French farmers ask me if I’m married. I say ‘no’ – of course – but follow it up immediately with the picture of ‘ma fiancée’. They all say “très jolie, très gentile, vous êtes très heureux” – and darling – I agree.
No mail for a couple of days – but in view of the situation – that’s understandable. Nothing much happening here, though, dear.
I get awful blue spells when the going seems slow – but now is the time we must be really patient, darling – and I guess I can hold out. I hope your patience is with you too, sweetheart.
Sorry – I can’t write more right now. Love to all at home, dear.
|Congratulatory Message from the Secretary of War to Omar Bradley|
In keeping with the desire of Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery to get the American offensive to the south under way, General Bradley had lost no time in redeploying the VII Corps from Cherbourg. As the Cherbourg operation was ending on the last day of June, Bradley ordered the VII Corps headquarters to move to Carentan immediately to assume responsibility for an area on the east of the VIII Corps.
The new VII Corps sector, between the Prairies Marécageuses de Gorges and the flooded Taute River, covered the shallowest part of the Allied beachhead. Through Carentan passed the only highway linking the U.S. troops in the Cotentin with the Allied forces east of the Taute River. The area was considered the weakest and most sensitive part of the entire First Army front.
A road center and small seaport, Carentan was extremely vulnerable to German attack. The VII Corps positions, facing southwest toward Périers, were only three and a half miles from the center of Carentan. A German counterattack in mid-June had come to within 500 yards of retaking the town, and German field artillery continued to interdict the town and the highway bridge across the Taute River. The First Army staff did not rule out the possibility that a determined German attack might overrun Carentan, cut the Allied beachhead in two, and deny the Allies lateral communication by land. Advancing the front line south of Carentan would eliminate these dangers and the nuisance of German shelling.
More important than these defensive considerations was the offensive motivation. The VII Corps objective was a portion of the Coutances-St. Lô highway. To reach the objective the corps had to pass through a narrow and well-defined corridor constricted by adjacent marshes. Resembling an isthmus two to three miles wide, the corridor between Carentan and Périers severely limited the amount of strength that corps could bring to bear. Only after reaching the Périers-St. Lô highway would VII Corps have adequate room for deploying its forces, and there, south of the Prairies Marécageuses de Gorges, the VII Corps would be at a juncture with the VIII Corps. Continuing south, the two corps would come abreast at the Coutances-St. Lô highway, the final army objective. Should resistance disintegrate before the final objective was reached, General Bradley could use an armored division that he had in the army reserve to exploit the American success.
General Bradley had thought of launching the VII Corps attack on 3 July, at the same time the VIII Corps jumped off, but he had decided to help VIII Corps on its first day of operations by giving it temporary control of the VII Corps Artillery. He therefore postponed the VII Corps effort until 4 July, when VII Corps was to regain control of its own artillery support.