Navigation bar
  Home View PDF document Start Previous page
 6 of 16 
Next page End 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11  

The German strength in the east was evidenced by the continual counter- attacks against the
British sector. When it became apparent to the enemy that the Cotentin Peninsula was lost, he
immediately began a redistribution of his forces to the west. Additional reserves were brought forward
to bolster the defense line against the anticipated First Army drive towards the interior of France. The
latter unit faced rivers and inundated areas along a preponderant portion of its front. It was clear that the
coming attack would be difficult and costly.
The objective of the First Army attack, commencing on 3 July, was a H line generally extending
east to west from Coutances through St. Lo. The initial assault was to be launched by the VIII Corps.
Other units were to attack on order. (See Map A)
The 79th Division on the right was to drive south to the west of La Haye-du-Puits; the 90th
Division on the left to drive southwest, pinching out the 82nd Airborne Division which was to capture
dominating terrain over-looking La Haye-du-Puits from the north. Concurrently, the VII Corps on the
left was ordered to drive south to secure limited objectives. (See Map B)
The three attacking divisions crossed the line of departure in accordance with the corps plan. The
drive moved steadily southward against heavy resistance. Within two days, the 82nd Airborne Division
had successfully seized its assigned objectives north of La Haya-du-Puits, and assumed a defensive
position until it was pinched out. On the third day after the commencement of the attack, the 90th
Division had succeeded in closing in towards La Haye-du-Puits from the east. The 79th Division had
pushed on to the western outskirts of the town. Repeated strong enemy counterattacks were successfully
repulsed by both divisions on the 6 and 7 of July. They had found a determined enemy in force along
their respective fronts. (14) The strong German positions among the hedgerows were manned by forces
unwilling to relinquish their hold on easily won gains. The following day, the 79th Division’s attack and
subsequent capture of La Haye-du-Puits moved the corps front slightly forward. The newly arrived 8th
Infantry Division was assigned a sector east of the town between the 79th and 90th Divisions. (See Map
B) On 9 July, only an imperceptible advance occurred along the corps front. Resistance appeared to be
increasing. The units on this front were involved in the severest type of hedgerow fighting. (15)
Cherbourg had been captured, the entire Cotentin Peninsula had been secured; but the enemy
continued to supplant his plan to contain the allies within their small area until he could gather sufficient
reserves to launch a major counteroffensive. (16) It was readily apparent that the forces attacking to the
south had encountered the German main line of resistance on the base of the Cotentin Peninsula – the
main positions of the formidable Mahlman Line.
(17) (See Map B)
On 10 July, the 90th Division was ordered to resume the attack against this obstacle. The plan
called for a coordinated assault by the 358th and 359th Infantry Regiments, with the 359th Infantry on
the right (18)
The 358th Infantry (minus the 2nd Battalion) with the 2nd Battalion, 359th Infantry attached,
was to attack with two battalions abreast, the 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry, on the right and the 2nd
Battalion, 359th Infantry, on the left. The objective was a line extending east and west through the
village of Lastelle. The order directed the 1st Battalion, 358th Infantry, to hold its present position on the
left and support the advance of the assault battalions by fire. (19) (See Mep C)
Previous page Top Next page