Le Plessis Lastelle / Bloody fighting for the 90th Infantry Division
In early July 1944 General Middleton’s VIIIth Army Corps launched a large scale offensive on the Cotentin frontline. The main attack was driven on the axis La Haye-du-Puits/Lessay. On 4 July the 82nd Airborne Division captured hill 95, while the 79th Infantry Division progressed toward La Haye-du-Puits. The 90th Infantry Division pushed between Prétot and Baupte. The 358th Regiment 1st Battalion reached crossroads north of Saint-Jores, a squad entered the town but a sharp German armored counterattack repelled the Americans. The battle raged all the day facing the 77th German infantry Division, and at nightfall the 1st Battalion liberated Saint-Jores. The next day advance carried on with reinforcement of the 712nd Tank Battalion, hamlet of Belles Croix was seized, then La Butte at the end of the day. On 5 July the 357th Regiment moved in Beau Coudray, the German paratroops of the 15th Regiment attempted to take back the town and beleaguered two companies. The Germans kept in check all attempts to crush the siege, it caused the Americans to surrender the next day. On 10 July the Germans withdrew and Beau Coudray, Le Plessis and Lastelle fell into the 90th Division's hands.
Monument dedicated to the 90th American Infantry Division Tough Ombres, who fought from 3 to 12 July 1944 to liberate Le Plessis Lastelle (Beaucoudray Battle of hill 112)
Stele in memory of eight soldiers of the 712nd Tank Battalion (1st Section, company C), killed in July 1944.
Mont Castre / The Norman hedgerow, nightmare of the American infantry
On 5 July 1944, the 1st American Army launched an offensive toward La Haye-du-Puits. The Americans engaged in a “battle of the hedges” that was going to be very costly. Before entering La Haye-du-Puits the Allied had to push back the Germans from two hills that framed the city : Montgardon and Le Mont Castre. On 6 July, the 79th American Infantry Division seized Montgardon. On 8 July, the 90th Infantry Division took the northern slope of the Mont Castre, after the parachutists of the 82th Airborne Division captured several hills at the foot of the Mont. The battle caused heavy human losses; at the end of the day, the 79th Infantry Division cleaned La Haye-du-Puits of the last snipers from the 35th German Infantry Division.
Photos above from left to right:
Top left shows the church of Gerville la Foret where the German Fallschirmjaeger buried their dead / This old school house was used as the aid station of the FJR 15 and was run by Dr Dollereder. The white door on the far right of the house was the exit for bringing out the dead to the near church where they was buried / Entrance path to La Grand Maison
Photo above, bottom row left to right:
This was the site of the Battalion command post of the I. Battalion / FJR 15 just about 2 Km from Gerville la Foret. Photo far right shows the starting point of a counter attack on July 6, 1944, led by my veteran friend R. Wulff (R.I.P.). The counter attack was made by 16 men and my friend was hit by a US sniper around 08 AM on this morning just minutes later after he had led his men into action. He was hit in the shoulder. The attack was made along the D97 in direction to La Haye du Puits.
Colleville-sur-Mer lay in the assault sectors Fox Green and Easy Red of the Omaha Landing Beach.
On 6 June 1944, the American troops landed in Normandy on Omaha Beach. At 6:30 am the first wave of the 1st Infantry Division was slaughtered, the second wave at 7 am suffered heavy losses. Around 9 am, the Rangers and the 116th Infantry Regiment opened the first exit.
Around 10 am, two gates were finally cracked open at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, with the support of tanks, and two destroyers shelling the casemates of Les Moulins. Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer was liberated at the end of the afternoon of D-Day, Colleville-sur-Mer was seized only on June 7 by the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division „Big Red One“the next day.
This is the church tower of Colleville-sur-Mer, captured by a few American soldiers (it had to be rebuilt after the war). The US snipers shot from the church steeple at the Germans. To stop the sniper fire and after killing Lieutenant Bauch from WN62 (headshot through the helmet, 3 German soldiers were assigned to take the snipers out with a Panzerfaust.
The first shot hit the middle sector of the steeple and a big hole occurred. A second Panzerfaust was shot and the church steeple fell completely together. The church was raided and the Germany were surprised not to find American snipers but three French Resistance fighters. Two of them died of the second Panzerfaust hit and the third one was taken prisoner and send to WN63.
The Big Red One Museum
“The Big Red One Assault” Museum houses the personal collection of his director – Pierre-Louis Gosselin. This collection is a result of 19 years of commitment, passion, research and patience. The museum is mainly devoted to the units of the first assault wave of the 1st Infantry Division „Big Red One“ - who landed on D-Day on Omaha Beach in the sectors Fox Red, Fox Green and Easy Red. The later film director, Samuell Fuller, came ashore in sector Fox Red, Omaha Beach, as Private in the 16th Infantry Regiment.
The collection also presents the Engineers Assault units and the Navy Beach Battalions.
This is the uniform of chaplain Capt. Fred Elwyn Andrews – combat catholic chaplain. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. He was on Omaha Beach on D-Day. It several year for Mr Gosselin to get this set directly from the family.
Omaha Beach - Sector Easy Red / WN62
Omaha Beach, Easy Red sector just where the German strongpoint WN62 was set. The infamous German machine gunner Hein Serverloh was there on D-Day to release hell with his machine gun. The photo is the view from the water line on Omaha Beach.
The photo below shows the 2nd bunker which held a Field gun mod. 1917 cal. 7.65 cm. The gun was manned by the soldiers Selbach, Drews, Reckers and Krieftewirth. The bunker was a Regelbau 612. The gun could fire up to Vierville.
Heinrich “Hein” Severloh was a German machine-gunner and was defending WN62 on D-Day. After his own memory, he released hell on the advancing landing troops and spend about 12’000 rounds out of his MG42. After his M42 was out of service he fired on with his K98 and used another 400 rounds of ammo. He was known as “The Beast of Omaha Beach”. Around 15.30 in the afternoon of D-Day he and the remaining survivors abandoned his post and fell back to WN63.
WN65 was taken by Infantry action only including the bunker housing the 50mm gun. The assault teams needed 4 hours to accomplish this. The gun bunker however was hit by naval artillery but most likely from farther away and only twice. The damage evidence shows that the hits have not been by big shells but by smaller. This does not automatically exclude shelling from destroyer forces but from shelling by battleships with big guns.
The first US radio message that they established a CP in the gun bunker was at 10:55 A.M. in the morning although the upper part of WN65 was still in German hands.
The shelling Naval ships in front of this Beach sector have been the following:
"Amsterdam", "Ben Mc Chree", "Prince Leopold", "Prince Charles", "Princess Maud", "Empire Javelin", "Jefferson", "Carroll", "Henrico", "Empire Anvil", Chase", General Bradleys Flaggschiff "Ancon", "Thurston", "Dix", "Oceanway" und "Arundel" sowie DT 216, LST 306, LST 310, LST 314, LST 315, LST 316, LST 317, LST 374, LST 375 und LST 376.
Harley Reynolds of Company B; 16th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division landed with the first wave in front of WN65. He made it through after he already survived the landings in North Africa and the Landing on Sicily. Mr Reynolds is still alive.