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The operations of the 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry, 90th US Infantry Division, in the Battle of
the Foret de Mont Castre, France, 10 – 12 July 1944, during the Normandy Campaign are considered
herein. Those reflections pertaining to this monograph that are viewed to be objective in nature are the
author’s own and are not to be construed as authoritative teachings.
The combat significance of an infantry battalion’s role in the execution of a strategic plan can be
more fully appreciated only if the reader is provided with general data pertinent to that plan. It is
intended that the following introductory comments, applicable to the invasion of France, will afford a
keener insight to the small unit operations subsequently related, analyzed and reviewed.
Immediately upon the fall of France in 1940, the Germans, in anticipation of an invasion from
the west, commenced construction of their western defense line – the once famous Atlantic Wall. For
four years – primarily with slave labor – the Nazis toiled to make impregnable the areas most vulnerable
to Allied attack. (1) Static troops were assigned to occupy those installations. Mobile reserves, poised to
meet threats in vulnerable sectors, were strategically located. (2) Although the defense installations were
not garrisoned by first line troops, it was apparent that the German General Staff placed great reliance on
the defense capabilities of that fortified line. (3)
The primary mission of the Allied forces designated to assault the coast of France was to
establish a beachhead in order that larger masses of troops could be employed in future operations
against the Germans. The assault on the continent was merely the initial step of a strategic plan which
was to be coordinated with attacks by Russia in the east and by other Allied forces in southern Europe.
The absolute defeat of Germany was the ultimate mission. (4)
Allied military leaders foresaw that the enemy must be defeated by superior weapons and
manpower. They indicated that the Western Wall was not to be breached by Napoleonic maneuvers.
Initial tactical operations were to be predicated on the enemy’s defenses. (5)
As a result of a long period of operational planning and evaluation of intelligence reports and
photographs, all likely invasion sectors were discarded except the Caen-Cotentin Peninsula. This area
was to be the initial battleground of the assaulting forces. (6) (See Map A)
The general plan of attack on the peninsula of France prescribed that the First US Army and the
Second British Army would assault the selected beaches on 6 June 1944. The VII Corps, First US Army,
was to assault Utah beach near Varreville, France, establish a beachhead and drive north to capture
Cherbourg. Consisting of the 4th and 90th Infantry Divisions, it was to be assisted initially by the 82nd
and 101st Airborne Divisions. The latter two units, by air assault, were to seize enemy strong points and
communication centers in rear of the defenses along the sea. The V Corps was to land on Omaha Beach
near St. Laurent-sur-Mer, establish a beachhead and advance to the south in conjunction with the British
Second Army. The latter unit was directed to assault Juno Beach, several miles to the east of Omaha
Beach. (7) (8) (9) (See Map A)
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