Jan 1, 1944

Summer 1944, the Americans at the heart of the Battle of Normandy

The Memorial de Caen

On 7 December 1941, the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor by Japanese naval air forces result in the United States entering World War II. 

The full power of the American economy and military are committed to the war.

In December 1943, during the Tehran Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill tell Stalin that a second front in France will be established in early May 1944. This will be the “Operation Overlord”.

9 November 1942. Aboard the Queen Mary. GIs of the 29th infantry division head toward England.

In England, the U.S. troops prepare operations for a future Landing on the Normandy coasts. Months of careful preparation and intensive training precede Operation Overlord.

Since the early months of 1944, the Allies have been bombing northwest France to destroy railway networks and equipment. 

The French press, authorised by the German authorities, comment on the bombings, calling them “terrorist raids.”

Article published on the front page of a Norman newspaper: "News from Fécamp and Pays de Caux" on 4 May 1944.

Upon England's entry into the war on 3 September 1939, the United States launches a financial and industrial war on a grand scale. 

“War bonds” are debt securities issued by the U.S. government to finance military wartime operations. This poster aims to inspire patriotism and awaken the consciences of citizens.

Propaganda campaigns promoting weapons bonds raise billions of dollars.

The “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division receive encouragement from the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, a few hours before the big jump.

In the night of June 5 to 6 in north Cotentin, the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions prepare their jump to land on a back sector of Utah Beach.

Utah Beach, 6:30 am

Arrival of the 8th Regiment of the 4th  division.

The weak German opposition allows them to quickly take control of the beaches in the area.

Omaha Beach, 6:35 am 

Up against a very effective German defence, the men of the 1st infantry division have difficulty advancing to the shore.

Most men in the first two waves of assault will be killed even before reaching land.

Drawing by Manuel Bromberg, army painter.

Pointe du Hoc, 7:10 am

The men of the 2nd Ranger battalion under the command of Colonel Rudder climb up the 30-metre cliff.

After several unsuccessful attempts, the Rangers reach the top near 8 am.

The paratroopers of the 82nd airborne division liberate Sainte-Mère-Eglise on 6 June 1944 at 9 am.
The morning of 6 June 1944, like many other American newspapers, the "Los Angeles Times" makes the Landing in Normandy the front page headline.

Airborne leaflets are dropped on the Normandy countryside to inform the civilian population.

The Battle of Normandy - 7 June to 21 August 1944 

From 7 June, Normandy, which has become the strategic focal point, transforms into a battlefield where military operations know no respite for twelve weeks. 

The beach battles give way to fighting in the thick hedges of the Norman countryside and in the towns and cities.

The breakthrough near Caumont l'Eventé from 9 to 13 June

The 1st U.S. infantry division launches an offensive with the aim of seizing Caumont l'Eventé.

The Americans rapidly take Sallen and the Vacquerie but clash with the 2nd Panzer Division before reaching Caumont.

After a night of fierce fighting, the city is liberated on 13 June near 9am.

Carentan, 12 June 1944

After several days of violent combat, the paratroopers of the 101st airborne division liberate the city with the help of the 2nd armoured division.

Objective: Take the Port of Cherbourg

After the GIs of the 9th infantry division take Barneville on 18 June, the Cotentin Peninsula is cut off, isolating the town of Cherbourg.

 Advance of American troops toward Cherbourg.
Montebourg, June 19th 1944

Cherbourg, 22 June 1944

The 4th, 9th, and 79th infantry divisions converge toward the city and break through various points of the German defence line. The town will finally be liberated on 26 June.

Cherbourg, 26 June 1944

After their surrender, General von Schlieben and Admiral Hennecke are brought to Octeville to the campaign headquarters of General Eddy, head of the 9th infantry division. 

Two weeks after taking Cherbourg, the men of the 1st army encounter heavy difficulties advancing through the thick Norman countryside in the direction of Saint Lô.

On 11 July, General Bradley decides to launch a major offensive to take hold of this strategic objective.

Each of the countless hedges of the Norman countryside proves to be an obstacle to the advance of U.S. troops, not accustomed to manoeuvring in this type of terrain.

 The battle of the Haye-du-Puits, 3-14 July 1944 – The liberation of the town took nearly 12 hours.

Saint Lô, 18 July 1944

The pressure of the Americans intensifies around the town. At the end of the day, the GIs take control of the Saint Lô, which has been reduced to a landscape of ruins.

On 25 July, the Americans move toward the south of Cotentin. The Operation Cobra, whose objective is to open the route toward Brittany, is set in motion.

The 8th Corps of Middleton moves towards Lessay and Périers, attempting to surround Choltitz's troops.

Coutances, 29 July 1944 - The 4th U.S. armoured division liberates the town while continuing to advance toward Avranches.
Avranches, 31 July 1944 - The 4th armoured division liberates the town.

Operation Cobra concludes with its objectives obtained.

The staff of the 3rd army can now advance in different directions. The American troops rush into Brittany, where they spread toward the south (in the direction of the Loire) and the east (toward La Mayenne) to participate in the encirclement of German troops in the Falaise area.

Taking Mortain, 7 August 1944

The German armoured counter-attack begins in Mortain. The German advance is initially quick, but the American artillery and aviation efforts succeed in defeating Kluge's German forces on the evening of August 7.

After this German defeat, the strategy of American attack is rapidly modified. General Bradley devises an encirclement plan to trap the enemy divisions.

Brittany

After the breakthrough of Avranches, General Middleton, commander of the 8th Corps of the 3rd U.S. Army, receives the order to liberate Brittany and to take control of the port of Brest.

Four days later, the city of Rennes is liberated by the 4th armoured division.

Saint Malo, 17 August 1944 – The Breton fortress has just fallen after 11 hours of fierce fighting and intense bombing.

Mayenne and Sarthe 

While the 8th corps of Middleton enters Brittany, the 15th corps, commanded by Haislip, advances towards Sarthe. 

The town of Mans will be liberated on 9 August. At the same time, the 20th corps, commanded by Walker, makes a strong push towards the Loire.

Laval, 6 August 1944 - The GIs of the 79th infantry division liberate the town.

Argentan, 20 August 1944

The 80th and 90th infantry divisions take over the town after having suffered several setbacks. 

It now becomes possible to join the Canadians and the Polish, advancing toward the east of Falaise.

The end of the Falaise Pocket, 21 August 1944

After a period of heavy fighting, all the pathways leading out of the town are blocked by the Allied presence (in particular, the men of the 90th U.S. infantry division). 

The carnage ends late in the evening. 50,000 German soldiers are taken prisoner.

On the days following the encirclement, the Americans try to trap the Germans by cutting off their retreat to the Seine.

On 25 August, the men of the 25th armoured division liberate Elbeuf and Louviers. 

Paris, 25 August 1944

From 8 am, the GIs of the 4th infantry division enter Paris by the Porte d'Italie. They traverse the Seine and then head east via the Saint Antoine suburb and Avenue Daumesnil. 

Their combat, with the help of General Leclerc's 2nd armoured division and the FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur) will allow the city to be liberated by 8 pm.

Credits: Story

Marie-Claude, Berthelot, Documentaliste 
Christophe, Prime, Historien

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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