Quantcast

From the Stars and Stripes archives

Liberators take Bayeux; important road severed

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE — "The major battle in France is joined," it was declared here today as Allied liberation troops fought inland from captured Bayeux on the Cherbourg peninsula in France, five miles from the coast.

With American, British and Canadian troops driving southward across the Cherbourg peninsula, having made contact with other Allied troops at smoke-shrouded Caen, 15 miles to the east, it was officially announced here that the first phase of the invasion — the securing of a foothold and the defeat of local German reserves — had been successfully accomplished.

The second phase of the battle, consolidation of the foothold and the engagement of German tactical reserves brought in from the outside to the immediate locality of the Allied landing, was reported to be in progress.

The third phase. it was said, will be the engagement with German strategic reserves which must be defeated before the Allies can hope for a substantial advance.

To the rear, or west of the advancing Allied forces in the Bayeux-Caen sector, Nazi forces on the peninsula were reported to have only one rail route left from Cherbourg. This is the line which runs almost due south from the city to Mont St. Michel and thence to Rennes.

The capture ofr Bayeux. a key point on the main Paris-Cherbourg railway, was announced this morning. And the road from Bayeux to Caen. which varies from five to nine miles fromthe coast was reported cut at several points.

The capture of Bayeux was confirmed by the German News Agency this afternoon when it announced that British troops had broken through the Nazi lines there and were advancing toward the southwest.

Correspondents this afternoon reported that the high ground east and southeast of Bayeux was in Allied hands and that Allied bombers had taken great care to avoid any damage to Bayeux itself.

Assault troops near Caen were said to be still making progress but were battling for every yard against German troops supported by accurate artillery. Some two miles to the west and to the east, two small villages were said to have fallen to Allied commandos.

Meanwhile, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, who visited the beachheads in France yesterday said that his "complete confidence in the ability of the Allied Armies, Navies and Air Forces to do all they are asked to do has been completely justified."

General Eisenhower added that "they have excelled in the standard of their planning and their education. any prior venture in which I have seen them engaged."

(In Washington, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson said that the full fury of German counterattacks in "full force," can be expected "at an early moment." Mr. Stimson expressed the belief that the Nazi High Command is just beginning to move its mobile reserves.)

A front-line dispatch from General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery's advance headquarters quoted him as saying the campaign was proceeding "'excellently."

New landings reported

Meanwhile as the job of supplying reinforcements of men and supplies to the beachheads continued, a German News Agency war correspondent reported new large-scale Allied airborne landings on the eastern side of the Cherbourg peninsula south of Azieville in the sector between Houlgate and Arromanches.

The correspondent said that these "newly launched forces had succeeded in pushing about six miles inland."

The News Agency said that the Allied bridgehead on the Normandy coast is now better than 30 miles wide. And the German-controlled Scandinavian Telegraph Bureau reported from Berlin that the tactical teeth of the Atlantic wall had been "knocked out in the first round."

Meanwhile, it was disclosed here this afternoon that specially waterproofed British and American tanks waded ashore through more than six feet of water in following up the first few waves of ground troops.

Two hundred and eighty firms in Britain did a rush job of waterproofing the tanks without knowing what they were doing, it was said, and the entire sheet steel production of Britain for three months was used in making the wading equipment.

Airfields plentiful

Germany had between 1,500 and 2.000 single and twin engined in the west, including Germany; with comparatively few in the area of the battlefields when the invasion started. it was disclosed herc this afternoon.

Indications from the actual fighting show that reinforcements already have come in. It was pointed out that there are enough airfields in the area to support a very large number of fighters. The problem facing the Nazis, it was said, is that of meeting the landings with sufficient strength in the air at the possible cost of denuding the homeland of fighter protection.

The disclosure of the capture of Bayeux and the penetration westward across the Cherbourg peninsula was the first official indication of the extent of the Allied advance from the coast. That Allied liberation forces were in this particular sector was first reported by the Allies yesterday with the announcement that the British 6th Airborne Division was holding bridges north of Caen.

Since the first few hours after the Allied ground and airborne troops landed, German military commentators and the German News Agency have insisted that the initial Allied objective is the capture of the Cherbourg peninsula and the utilization of the key port of Cherbourg as a base for further operations.

The Nazis have reported "swaying battles in full swing north of Bayeux and in the area of Carentan (west of Bayeux) where the Americans are trying to widen and link up their beachheads."

The German News Agency announced that the Allies had established circles between Carentan and Valognes to the northwest on the Cherbourg peninsula with a pipeline communication to the coast. They said that reinforcements were being landed constantly from the sea and from the sky.

It was indicated at SHAEF this morning that the operations were running "pretty well to time" and theta number of German prisoners had been captured, High Allied officials were very confident.

Nazis still bewildered

The Associated Press reported that Allied spokesmen were deliberately declining to give many specific details of the actual fighting as they believed the Nazis still were somewhat bewildered by the multiple landings. The steadily increasing enemy resistance was described as the natural result of the rushing of reinforcements by Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Rommel to individual localities where they had been able to size up the scale of the Allied attacks.

Richard McMillan, a combined press correspondent with the liberation armies, reported that the populace went wild when the first Allied troops occupied the town.

"The streets were blocked with cheering men, women and children," he wrote. "Tricolors and Union Jacks were hung in the windows. Cafes threw open their doors and pianists began to play British and French patriotic tunes. The crowds danced and shouted "Vive l'Amerique, vive Tommy."

The correspondent. who drove through a sector of the coastal belt occupied by the American, British and Canadian troops, said that "havoc" had been wrought by the Allied naval and air bombardment. He reported the roads badly damaged and many hamlets and villages which the Germans had used as headquarters as entirely destroyed.

Weather improves

Full scale support was given by the United Nations Air Forces as the liberation forces pressed their attack. Weather over the Channel had improved considerably and the high, choppy sea had moderated considerably.

Airfields. rail centers, marshaling yards, bridges and highway — installations where enemy reinforcements be massed to be rushed to the front — were bombed continuously as the Allied operations proceeded. Tactical fighters and fighter bombers, augmented by heavies used for the first time in tactical operations, kept up the aerial barrage yesterday and today. The planes, comprising the most stupendous air armada ever collected, ranged far up and down the coast and way inland. striking at targets in many instances 100 miles ahead of the fighting points.

More than 8,000 sorties were flown in tactical support alone of the land and naval forces yesterday.

The Luftwaffe suffered a smashing defeat yesterday over France when they finally rose to meet, in some degree, the assaults of the Allied flyers. Between dawn and midnight, 102 Nazi planes were destroyed, 82 of them in combat and 20 on the ground.

This morning's communique told of attacks by coastal aircraft on enemy naval units in the Bay of Biscay and Channel areas last night and the sinking of at least two E-boats. Heavy bombers in strong force also attacked the rail centers of Acheres, Versailles, Massy-Palaiseau and Juvisy on the outskirts of Paris and enemy transports 12 miles south of the assault area.

Beach obstacles poor

'I'he biggest surprise of all, it was reported. has been the poor quality of beach obstacles. German boasts of the secret devices that were to make Allied landings impossible. or at least extremely costly, proved to be false. There was nothing new or original.

The beaches have been heavily mined, but the weight of the bombs dropped by Allied Air Forces in the pre-invasion barrage had exploded many of the mines and landing sappers had little to do on the beaches themselves. Opposition of E-boats was negligible and there was an absence of enemy submarine action.

Most of the Allied wounded who have been returned from the bcachhcads said the worst opposition came from snipers.

The success of the coordinated tactical assaults of the heavy, medium and light bombers, fighter bombers and fighters may be measured by the announcement that only one railway-bridge and five road bridges over the Seine from Paris to the sea at Le Havre were reported to be intact as of yesterday morning. All the railway bridges between Rouen and Paris have been cut.

No indications have been given as yet as to the strength of the Allied forces now fighting nor as to the numbers of men that Field Marshal von Rundstedt has been able to mass in the areas stormed.
 

Join the conversation and share your voice.

Show Comments