Chuckadice: Band of Brothers

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

After Action Report 10: 27th June 1944 - Cherbourg

After a week of intense fighting and the day after General von Schlieben, the German commander was captured, the French port of Cherbourg falls to the Allies.

German forces in Fortress Cherbourg were well aware of the desperateness of their position as early as the morning of 24 June. By that time VII Corps had broken through the main defense line although it had not yet captured all of the principal strong points. In an intercepted message to higher headquarters General von Schlieben stated: "...communications to several battalions no longer available. Phosphorus shells have put eight batteries out of action. Tomorrow heavier enemy attacks expected. ... Completely crushed by artillery fires." Other captured documents revealed that losses of unit leaders were heavy and that morale was low. Although the conglomerate German force continued to resist with determination and delayed the American advance, US VII Corps’ progress was steady after the penetration of 22-23 June and in the final phase the three infantry divisions reduced the remaining strong points one by one, seized the last ground commanding the port, and closed in on the beleaguered city.

In a special operation designed to prevent destruction of the valuable docks by the Germans, Edge Company was landed from a captured torpedo boat directly into the center of the docks area. Their orders were to capture the docks, locate & disable demolition equipment, capture technical & intel documents from the dock buildings and hold until relieved.

The approach was uneventful and the German defenders were unaware of the attack until American troops began deploying from the torpedo boat onto the dock side where despite coming under increasingly heavy fire, the assault squads managed to cross the open ground to their objectives.

With support from the boat cannons and accurate mortar fire the assault was pressed home. A security HQ provided unexpected resistance but was overcome and provided a useful fire point covering the main gate to the dockyard as well as providing valuable reinforcements when captured US personnel were released from the cells.

Barracks, office & workshop buildings were also cleared and a hitherto unknown entrance to underground submarine pens discovered. Considerable quantities of technical, research & prototype intel was captured.

The Germans mounted several local counterattacks from the town but these were unco-ordinated and lacking in armour support so were driven off at heavy cost to the attackers until eventually leading elements of VII Corps broke through to relieve the defenders and assume control of the objective.

Lt Edge who led the operation has been recommended for a Bronze Star to recognise its outstanding execution & success.

Sgt Murphy has been awarded a second Purple Heart and rotated back to the States.


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