The Battle of Carentan was an engagement in World War II between airborne forces of the United States Army and the German Wehrmacht during the Battle of Normandy. The battle took place between 6 and 13 June 1944, on the approaches to and within the city of Carentan, France.
The objective of the attacking American forces was consolidation of the U.S. beachheads (Utah Beach and Omaha Beach) and establishment of a continuous defensive line against expected German counterattacks. The defending German force attempted to hold the city long enough to allow reinforcements en route from the south to arrive, prevent or delay the merging of the lodgments, and keep the U.S. First Army from launching an attack towards Lessay-Périers that would cut off the Cotentin Peninsula.
Carentan was defended by two battalions of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 (6th Parachute Regiment) of the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division and two Ost battalions. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division, ordered to reinforce Carentan, was delayed by transport shortages and attacks by Allied aircraft. The attacking 101st Airborne Division, landed by parachute on 6 June as part of the American airborne landings in Normandy, was ordered to seize Carentan.
In the ensuing battle, the 101st forced passage across the causeway into Carentan on 10 and 11 June. A lack of ammunition forced the German forces to withdraw on 12 June. The 17th SS PzG Division counter-attacked the 101st Airborne on 13 June. Initially successful, its attack was thrown back by Combat Command A (CCA) of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division.
|Battle of Carentan|
|Part of Operation Overlord, Battle of Normandy|
Scheme of attack, Battle of Carentan
|Commanders and leaders|
Maxwell D. Taylor|
Friedrich von der Heydte|
|2nd Armored Division||
11 airborne infantry battalions|
1 tank battalion
1 mechanized infantry battalion
2 parachute infantry battalions|
2 Ost infantry battalions
2 panzergrenadier battalions
1 panzer battalion with assault guns
On 6 June 1944, the Allies launched a massive and long-anticipated air and amphibious invasion of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord. The 101st Airborne Division paratroopers landed behind Utah Beach with the objective of blocking German reinforcements from attacking the flank of the U.S. VII Corps during its primary mission of seizing the port of Cherbourg. The glider troopers landed by glider and ships on 6 and 7 June.
Merging the American beachheads at Utah and Omaha Beach was a D-Day objective of the amphibious forces but was not achieved because of heavy German resistance at Omaha. Moreover, Allied intelligence believed that three German divisions were massing to drive a wedge between them. Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspected Omaha on 7 June and ordered a "concentrated effort" to make the linkup.
Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, senior American ground commander, ordered the original tactical plan be changed to make the top priority of U.S. operations the joining of the lodgments through Isigny and Carentan. VII Corps received the Carentan assignment and assigned the 101st Airborne Division, closest to the city, "the sole task of capturing Carentan."
Carentan is a port city located in Normandy, France, in the Douve River valley at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula. At the time of the Second World War, Carentan's civilian population was about four thousand. Four major highways and a railroad converged in the city, from Cherbourg to the northwest, Bayeux and Caen to the east, Saint-Lô to the southeast, and Coutances to the southwest. The city is dominated by high ground to the southwest and southeast, all of which was under German control during the battle. Its other three approaches are bordered by watercourses: the Douve River to the west and north, a boat basin to the northeast, and the Vire-Taute Canal to the east. The Germans flooded much of the Douve River floodplain prior to the invasion, resulting in a marshland impassable to vehicles and difficult to cross by infantry, a tactic once used by Napoleon Bonaparte at the same location.
The highway from Saint Côme-du-Mont crossed the floodplain via a narrow 1 mile (2 km) long causeway having banks rising six to nine feet (2–3 m) above the marsh. Four bridges spanned the Douve and several tributaries along the causeway. Troops in the open under fire could find cover only by digging in on the sloping eastern bank of the causeway. In retreating from Saint Côme-du-Mont, the Germans had blown up Bridge No. 2 on the causeway and a portion of the railroad embankment as well.
Carentan was defended by two battalions of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 (6th Parachute Regiment) of the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division, commanded by Oberst Friedrich von der Heydte, and remnants of 91 Air Landing Division's Grenadier-Regiment 1058. Both had escaped from nearby Saint Côme-du-Mont on 8 June when the village was captured by the 101st Airborne Division. II./FJR6 and III./FJR6 (2nd and 3rd Battalions, 6th Parachute Regiment) were still intact as fighting formations, but III./GR1058 had been nearly destroyed in three days of combat and was no longer effective as a unit.
The German LXXXIV Corps (84.Korps) reinforced the 6th Parachute Regiment (FJR6) with two Ost battalions and a few survivors of Grenadier-Regiment 914 (German 352nd Infantry Division) following its 9 June defeat at Isigny. Army Group B commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ordered von der Heydte to defend the town "to the last man." Otl. von der Heydte positioned the third- and fourth-rate (by German definition) Ost battalions along the Vire-Taute Canal to defend to the east. II./FJR6 he placed across the Carentan end of the causeway, and III./FJR6 dug in to defend against an attack from the north.
The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division stationed at Thouars, ostensibly a mechanized infantry division of the OKW Mobile Reserve but without tanks or adequate transport, was ordered on 7 June to move to Normandy following the Allied landings. However it was delayed by shortages of trucks and attacks by Allied aircraft that destroyed bridges over the Loire River and interdicted rail movements. Advance elements reached Angers on 9 June and Saint-Lô on 10 June, by which time Rommel's main concern was in preventing an attack westward from Carentan to cut off the Cotentin. The 38th Panzergrenadier Regiment formed a mobile battle group to resist V Corps units south of Isigny, and the 37th PzG-Rgt was sent to Carentan.
The 101st Airborne Division consolidated its forces in Normandy on 9 June. Its three parachute regiments (501st, 502nd, and 506th PIRs) had been badly scattered during their air drops, losing a significant number of men killed and missing as a result, and had suffered further casualties in taking Saint Côme-du-Mont. Its 327th Glider Infantry Regiment had landed largely at Utah Beach on D+1 (7 June) and except for its third battalion (the attached 1st Battalion, 401st GIR), had yet to engage in serious combat. Several units of the 327 did land by ship on D-Day. The 327 HQ Co Anti-Tank Platoon glided into France.
The 2nd Armored Division, part of the U.S. V Corps, had advanced off Omaha Beach to support the drive of the 175th Infantry Regiment (29th Division) to Isigny. Its Combat Command A (CCA), consisting of M4 Sherman tanks of the 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment and mechanized infantry of the 3rd Battalion, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, was available as an armored force reserve for the 101st Airborne.
On 9 June the 101st finished consolidating, with the 502nd PIR guarding the right flank along the upper Douve River, the 506th PIR deployed across the Carentan highway, and the 327th GIR on the left in positions along the Douve River opposite Brévands. The 501st PIR was the division's reserve and guarding the left flank east of the 327.
Patrols and aerial reconnaissance of Carentan indicated that the town might be lightly defended, and a plan to capture the city by a double envelopment was contrived, using the 502nd PIR on the right and the 327th GIR on the left, scheduled to jump off just after midnight 10 June. Then 502nd's mission was to force the bridges and capture high ground southwest of the town along the Périers highway (Hill 30) to block withdrawal. The 327th was to cross the Douve at Brévands, circle a mile to the east, and come in on the road west from Isigny to take the town.
Leading the attack of the 502nd, the 3rd Battalion (3rd/502nd PIR) under Lt Col. Robert G. Cole found Bridge No. 2 (the Douve bridge) unrepaired and the engineers assigned to the task pinned down by fire from an 88mm gun. Cole sent his S-2, 1st Lt. Ralph B. Gehauf, with a patrol across the river in a small boat. They made their way to the last bridge, which they found blocked by a Belgian gate. The patrol was able to push the obstacle aside only 18 inches, just enough for one soldier at a time to negotiate. The patrol soon came under flare illumination, mortar, and machine gun fire and eventually returned at 05:30, when the attack was postponed. Most of the fire appeared to be coming from a large farmhouse ( ) and a hedgerow on higher ground 250 yards to the right of the highway beyond Bridge No. 4.
The 327th GIR's 1st and 2nd Battalions crossed the Douve River during the early morning hours of 10 June. 1st Battalion received friendly fire casualties from US mortars during the crossing by rubber boat. Some units waded across the river. After reaching the east bank in the early daylight hours the 327th GIR swung south towards Catz. 1st Battalion attacked on the south side of the Isigny highway and 2nd Battalion was on the north side. With Company G in the 2nd Battalion lead, heavy casualties were received as they approached Carentan. G Company was placed in reserve and was attached to the 3d Battalion of the 327th (401). In the early daylight hours of the 11th, Company A of the 401st (3Bn) and Co G of the 327th attacked southward along the Bassin a Flot, again taking heavy casualties.
At 01:45 1st/327th GIR began crossing the footbridges over the lower Douve, and by 06:00, under cover of artillery fire, the entire regiment was across. It captured Brévands and began the three-mile (5 km) movement south and west. Company A of the 401st GIR, accompanied by the Division Assistant G-3, left the column and marched east toward Auville-sur-le-Vey to link up with the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. The 327th did not encounter serious opposition until it approached the bridges spanning the Vire-Taute Canal east of Carentan at 18:00. It went into the attack with two battalions on line and by midnight held the east bank.
The Douve bridge was still not repaired when 3rd/502d PIR returned at noon. The paratroopers used engineer materials at hand to improvise a footbridge and began their attack shortly after 13:00. Moving single file down the causeway and advancing by crouching and crawling, the point of the 400-man battalion reached Bridge No. 4 at about 16:00, with most of the unit past Bridge No. 3. Under artillery and mortar fire, and then sniper and machine gun fire as they got within range, casualties among the 3rd/502nd PIR became heavy. Nightfall ended the advance but not the casualties, when an attack at 23:30 by two low-flying German Ju 87 Stukas strafing the causeway killed 30 men and knocked I Company completely out of the battle. The severe casualties suffered by the 3rd/502d PIR, estimated at 67% of the original force, resulted in the nickname "Purple Heart Lane" applied to that portion of the Carentan-Sainte-Mère-Église highway.
During the night German fire subsided. Company H crept through the opening in the obstacle, and when it did not suffer any casualties, at 0400 Company G and the Headquarters Company followed, taking cover on both sides of the highway. Scouts in the point nearly reached the main farmhouse in the morning twilight when they were cut down by German fire. Lt. Col. Cole immediately called for artillery support, but the German fire did not cease. At 06:15, using a smoke screen for concealment, Lt Col. Cole ordered his executive officer, Major John P. Stopka, to pass word to the battalion that it would have to charge the German positions to eliminate them.
Using a whistle to signal the attack, Cole led a bayonet charge that overwhelmed the defenders in savage close combat, for which Cole was later awarded the Medal of Honor. At first only a small portion of the battalion, approximately 20 men, charged, but Stopka quickly followed with 50 more. The attack picked up impetus as the other paratroopers observed it in progress and joined it, crossing a ditch. Overrunning the empty farmhouse, men of Company H found many German paratroopers dug in along the hedgerow behind it. Companies H and G killed them with hand grenades and bayonets but at severe cost to themselves.
The survivors of 3rd/502nd PIR set up defensive positions and requested 1st Battalion 502nd PIR continue the attack. Lt Col. Patrick F. Cassidy's battalion, however, also took serious casualties from mortar fire and could only strengthen Lt Col. Cole's defensive line, taking up positions from the 3rd Battalion command post in the farmhouse to the highway. During a 2-hour truce at mid-day in which U.S. forces attempted to negotiate for removal of casualties, Company C 502nd moved forward from Bridge No. 4 into a cabbage patch between the second and third hedgerows. Company A 502nd moved up just behind Company C and extended its line across the highway. Fighting at the cabbage patch during the afternoon often took place at extremely close range with the contending forces on opposite sides of the same hedgerow.
Except for the noon truce, which FJR6 also used to resupply and reorganize, the American forces repelled repeated attacks. The final one nearly succeeded in overwhelming the 3rd/502nd PIR at 1830, gaining all but the final hedgerow between it and the Douve River. However, Lt Col. Cole's artillery officer, able to overcome jamming of his radio, called down a concentration of VII Corps Artillery so close that several Americans were also killed. The overwhelming violence of the 5-minute barrage rolled back the last German counterattack.
Patrols from the 327th had discovered a partially destroyed footbridge over the Vire-Taute Canal at the point where it connected with the Douve, northeast of the city. The bridge was repaired by 10:00, and a company each of the 2nd (Company G) and 3rd battalions (Company A 401) crossed and attacked down the forested banks of the boat basin (Bassin à Flot), but like the 502nd, were stopped a half mile (1 km) short of Carentan by machine gun and mortar fires that artillery could not suppress.
FJR6, nearly out of ammunition, withdrew during the night, leaving only a small rear guard. A Luftwaffe parachute resupply drop that night seven miles (11 km) to the southwest arrived too late to help. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division (Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Werner Ostendorff), on the road toward Carentan since D-Day, had been delayed by air attack and lack of fuel. By nightfall on 11 June only a few advanced elements had reached the division's assembly areas.
To complete the capture of Carentan, Gen. Courtney Hodges of First Army created a task force under Gen. Anthony McAuliffe to coordinate the final assault. The mission to take Hill 30 was reassigned to the 506th PIR, the attack along the Bassin à Flot was renewed, and the 501st PIR was relieved of its defensive positions to circle behind the 327th GIR and approach Hill 30 from the east. The movements were covered by an all-night artillery bombardment of Carentan using naval gunfire, Corps artillery, 4.2-inch mortars, and tank destroyers that had joined the 327th GIR along the eastern canal.
Two battalions of the 506th moved down the Carentan causeway after dark, passed through the 2nd/502nd PIR at 02:00 on 12 June, and marched cross country to Hill 30 (the village of la Billonnerie), which they captured by 05:00. The 1st Battalion took up defensive positions facing south across the highway, while the 2nd Battalion was ordered north to attack the city. The 501st PIR during the night moved into position behind the 327th Glider Infantry, crossed the canal, and reached Hill 30 by 06:30.
At 06:00 Carentan was attacked from the north by 1st/401st GIR and the south by 2nd/506th PIR. Both units encountered machine gun fire from the rear guard, but the 2nd/506th was also sporadically shelled by artillery to the south of Carentan. Despite this, both units swiftly cleaned out the rear guard in a short fight near the railway station and advanced on the streets ending with the enemies forces, then the us paratroopers met at 07:30 in the centre of town after a short combat . The 1st/506th PIR engaged in more serious combat south of town when it had to rescue Col. Sink's command post, surrounded because it had pushed too far towards the German lines in the dark.
In the afternoon both the 506th and 501st advanced southwest but after a mile were stopped by heavy contacts with new German units including a few tanks. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division had intended to counterattack to retake Carentan, but its assault guns were held up in the assembly areas by Allied air attacks. Instead infantry units dug in on higher ground below the city and battled the paratroopers until dark.
At dawn on 13 June, the 101st Airborne was about to attack the German line when it was attacked by tanks and assault guns. Two battalions of the 37th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, supported by the 17th SS Panzer Battalion and III./FJR6, struck hard at the 501st PIR on the American left, which fell back under heavy pressure. The left flank companies (Dog and Fox Companies) of the 506th then gave way, and by noon the spearheads of the German attack were within 500 yards of Carentan. However, Company E (Easy) of the 506th, commanded by 1st Lt. Richard D. Winters, anchored its right flank against a railroad embankment and held its position. Reinforced by the 2nd/502nd PIR taking position on its right, Easy Company slowed the German attack until American tanks could be brought up.
Reacting to an Ultra warning of the size and threat of the counterattack, Lieutenant General Bradley diverted CCA U.S. 2nd Armored Division (commanded by Brig. Gen. Maurice Rose and near Isigny sur mer) to Carentan at 10:30. At 14:00 CCA attacked, supported by the self-propelled howitzers of the 14th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. One task force of tanks and mechanized infantry surged down the road to Baupte in the 2nd/506th's area and shattered the main German thrust. A second task force drove back German forces along the Périers highway, inflicting heavy losses in men and equipment. CCA, followed by the 502nd PIR, then pushed west a mile beyond the original lines.
Events from the year 1944 in France.Azeville battery
The Azeville battery was a World War II German artillery battery constructed close to the French village of Azeville in the in the Manche department in the Normandy region in northwestern France. It formed a part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications amd was involved in the Normandy landings and shelled the US landing beach UTAH (15 km (9.3 mi) away) for three days after D-Day, 6 June 1944. The battery was heavily bombed on 9 June 1944 and fell to the Americans the same day. The site is owned by the local council and one of the battery's gun casemates now houses a museum.Battle of Bloody Gulch
The Battle of Bloody Gulch took place around the Manoir de Donville or Hill 30 (U.S. Army designation), approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Carentan in Normandy, France, on June 13, 1944.
It involved elements of the German 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division and 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment, and the American 501st, 502nd and 506th, Parachute Infantry Regiments (PIR) of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, reinforced by elements of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 29th Infantry Division.
During the battle, the manor house of Manoir de Donville was the headquarters of the German forces. American soldiers nicknamed the road running past the manor "Bloody Gulch", after a place mentioned in a popular western movie.Battle of Chambois
The Battle of Chambois was an August 1944 battle during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Prior to the battle, a pocket had formed around Falaise, Calvados, where the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army (formerly Panzergruppe West) were encircled by the Western Allies. The seizure of Chambois by American, Canadian and Polish forces saw the final closure of the Falaise Pocket on August 21, 1944 and the destruction of most of Army Group B.Battle of Cherbourg
The Battle of Cherbourg was part of the Battle of Normandy during World War II. It was fought immediately after the successful Allied landings on June 6, 1944. Allied troops, mainly American, isolated and captured the fortified port, which was considered vital to the campaign in Western Europe, in a hard-fought, month-long campaign.Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial
The Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Saint-James, Normandy, France, near the northeastern edge of Brittany. It contains the remains of 4,410 of World War II American soldiers, most of whom lost their lives in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns of 1944. Along the retaining wall of the memorial terrace are inscribed the names of 498 of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of soldiers whose remains have been identified.Carentan
Carentan (pronounced [kaʁɛ̃tɑ̃]) is a small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in north-western France near the port city of Cherbourg, with a population somewhat over 6,000. It is a former commune in the Manche department. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Carentan-les-Marais. The town was a strategic early goal of the World War II landings as capturing the town was necessary to link the lodgements at Utah and Omaha beaches which were divided by the Douve River estuary (nearby fields were flooded by the Germans up to the town's outskirts). The town was also needed as an intermediate staging position for the capture of the cities of Cherbourg and Octeville, with the critically important port facilities in Cherbourg.Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes is a 2006 real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ for the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems. It was the first title to make use of the Games for Windows label.
Company of Heroes is set during the Second World War and contains two playable factions. Players aim to capture strategic resource sectors located around the map, which they use to build base structures, produce new units, and defeat their enemies. In the single-player campaign the player commands two U.S. military units during the Battle of Normandy and the Allied liberation of France. Depending on the mission, the player controls either Able Company of the 29th Infantry Division's 116th Infantry, or Fox Company of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th PIR.
Company of Heroes received widespread acclaim, winning multiple awards for the best strategy game of the year. Two expansions were released for the game, the first one named Opposing Fronts in 2007, and the second one titled Tales of Valor in 2009. A free-to-play massively multiplayer online version of the game, Company of Heroes Online, was briefly released as open beta in South Korea in April 2010, before being cancelled in March 2011.The success of the game led to a sequel, Company of Heroes 2, which was released in 2013. As of January 2013, the whole Company of Heroes series has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. There was also a film adaptation, starring Tom Sizemore.Fallschirmjäger (World War II)
The Fallschirmjäger (German: [ˈfalʃɪʁmˌjɛːɡə] (listen)) were the paratrooper (German: Fallschirmjäger) branch of the German Luftwaffe before and during World War II. They were the first German paratroopers to be committed in large-scale airborne operations and came to be known as the "green devils" by the Allied forces they fought against. The Fallschirmjäger were very effective when used in commando style raids. The Fallschirmjäger were famous for their willingness to give every effort unwaveringly even in the grimmest of situations. The Fallschirmjäger were seldom used as parachutists. Instead, they were prized for their combat abilities and frequently acted in a "fire brigade" role as roving elite infantrymen. Throughout World War II the Fallschirmjäger commander was Kurt Student.Houlgate battery
The Houlgate battery (also called the Battery de Tournebride) was a World War II German artillery battery constructed close to the French village of Houlgate in the Calvados department in the Lower Normandy region. Built into the top of a 300 ft (91 m) cliff, the bunker complex was created to protect the western bank of the mouth of the River Seine and was 10 mi (16 km) east of the Normandy landing beach Sword which it shelled. The former fire control post has been turned into a orientation table. The battery is 8km east of the Mont Canisy battery.Lewis Nixon III
Captain Lewis Nixon III (September 30, 1918 – January 11, 1995) was a United States Army officer who, during World War II, served at the company, battalion, and regimental level with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Nixon was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Ron Livingston.Maisy battery
The Maisy Battery is a group of World War II artillery batteries constructed by the Wehrmacht near the French village of Grandcamp-Maisy in Normandy. It formed a part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications and was the principal position of defence for that area. It was responsible for the defense of the sector between the Longues-sur-Mer and the St Marcouf (Crisbecq) batteries. It could target both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach.The complex was built under strict security by forced labour from Russia, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Wehrmacht run battery was not marked on the Allied D-Day maps which were released to the invasion troops. Given that the Allied Rangers were not briefed to assault Maisy Battery and were instead sent to attack the empty gun battery at Pointe du Hoc, author and historian Gary Sterne was the first to publicy suggest that Pointe du Hoc (leading up to D-Day) was used by German defenders as a ruse to lead the Allies away from the Maisy site.Merderet
The Merderet is a 36 km long river in Normandy, France which is tributary to the Douve River. It runs roughly north-south down the middle of the Cotentin peninsula from Valognes to the junction with the Douve at Beuzeville la Bastille.Merville Gun Battery
The Merville Gun Battery was a coastal fortification in Normandy, France, in use as part of the Germans' Atlantic Wall built to defend continental Europe from Allied invasion. It was a particularly heavily fortified position and one of the first places to be attacked by Allied forces during the Normandy Landings commonly known as D-Day. A British force under the command of Terence Otway succeeded in capturing this position, suffering heavy casualties.Military history of the United States during World War II
The military history of the United States in World War II covers the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan, starting with the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. During the first two years of World War II, the United States had maintained formal neutrality as made official in the Quarantine Speech delivered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, while supplying Britain, the Soviet Union, and China with war materiel through the Lend-Lease Act which was signed into law on 11 March 1941, as well as deploying the U.S. military to replace the British invasion forces in Iceland. Following the "Greer incident" Roosevelt publicly confirmed the "shoot on sight" order on 11 September 1941, effectively declaring naval war on Germany and Italy in the Battle of the Atlantic. In the Pacific Theater, there was unofficial early U.S. combat activity such as the Flying Tigers.
During the war, over 16 million Americans served in the United States Armed Forces, with 405,399 killed in action and 671,278 wounded. There were also 130,201 American prisoners of war, of whom 116,129 returned home after the war. Key civilian advisors to President Roosevelt included Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who mobilized the nation's industries and induction centers to supply the Army, commanded by General George Marshall and the Army Air Forces under General Hap Arnold. The Navy, led by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Admiral Ernest King, proved more autonomous. Overall priorities were set by Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired by William Leahy. Highest priority went to the defeat of Germany in Europe, but first the war against Japan in the Pacific was more urgent after the sinking of the main battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Admiral King put Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, based in Hawaii, in charge of the Pacific War against Japan. The result was a series of some of the most famous naval battles in history. The Imperial Japanese Navy had the advantage, taking the Philippines as well as British and Dutch possessions, and threatening Australia but in June 1942, its main carriers were sunk during the Battle of Midway, and the Americans seized the initiative. The Pacific War became one of island hopping, so as to move air bases closer and closer to Japan. The Army, based in Australia under General Douglas MacArthur, steadily advanced across New Guinea to the Philippines, with plans to invade the Japanese home islands in late 1945. With its merchant fleet sunk by American submarines, Japan ran short of aviation gasoline and fuel oil, as the U.S. Navy in June 1944 captured islands within bombing range of the Japanese home islands. Strategic bombing directed by General Curtis Lemay destroyed all the major Japanese cities, as the U.S. captured Okinawa after heavy losses in spring 1945. With the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and an invasion and Soviet intervention imminent, Japan surrendered.
The war against Germany involved aid to Britain, her allies, and the Soviet Union, with the U.S. supplying munitions until it could ready an invasion force. U.S. forces were first tested to a limited degree in the North African Campaign and then employed more significantly with British Forces in Italy in 1943–45, where U.S. forces, representing about a third of the Allied forces deployed, bogged down after Italy surrendered and the Germans took over. Finally the main invasion of France took place in June 1944, under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Air Forces and the British Royal Air Force engaged in the area bombardment of German cities and systematically targeted German transportation links and synthetic oil plants, as it knocked out what was left of the Luftwaffe post Battle of Britain in 1944. With the Soviets unstoppable in the east, and the Allies unstoppable in the west, Germany was squeezed to death. Berlin fell to the Soviets in May 1945, and with Adolf Hitler dead, the Germans surrendered.
The military effort was strongly supported by civilians on the home front, who provided the military personnel, the munitions, the money, and the morale to fight the war to victory. World War II cost the United States an estimated $341 billion in 1945 dollars – equivalent to 74% of America's GDP and expenditures during the war. In 2015 dollars, the war cost over $4.5 trillion.Mission Detroit
Mission Detroit was a pre-dawn glider-borne combat assault in the American airborne landings in Normandy, made by elements of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division on the early morning of June 6, 1944, during World War II. It was part of Operation Neptune, the assault portion of the Allied invasion of Normandy, Operation Overlord. Originally slated to be the main assault for the 82nd Airborne, the glider operation instead became the first reinforcement mission after the main parachute combat assault, Mission Boston. The landing zone for mission Detroit was near Sainte-Mère-Église, to the west of Utah Beach.
The objective of the division was to secure the town of Sainte-Mère-Église and to take the bridges along the Merderet River. By doing this, the U.S. 4th Infantry Division coming in at Utah Beach would have easy access to making their way northwards towards the ports at Cherbourg.
Casualties for the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day were about 1,260 of 6,600, or about 20%.
On 6 June 1944 the heavier elements of the division landed by glider in Mission Elmira.Mission Elmira
During World War II, mission Elmira was the landing of a significant part of the 82nd Airborne Division’s glider train in Normandy on the evening before 6 June 1944 as part of Operation Neptune, the assault phase of Operation Overlord.Mont Canisy battery
The Mont Canisy battery was a World War II German artillery battery constructed close to the French village of Benerville-sur-Mer in the Calvados department in the Lower Normandy region. Located on the highest ground in Normandy (110 m (360 ft) high), the vantage point overlooks the Côte Fleurie. The bunker complex was constructed between 1941 and 1944 to protect the River Seine estuary and the port of Le Havre. It was the largest artillery bunker complex between Cherbourg and Le Havre. The battery is 8 km (5.0 mi) west of the Houlgate battery.
A French naval coastal battery was on the site from 1935 to 1940. In 1940 the guns were put out of action before the site was captured by advancing German troops in 1940.
Much of the site is now a nature reserve and the bunker complex is open to the public and guided tours take place throughout the summer.Operation Gambit
Operation Gambit was a part of Operation Neptune, the landing phase of the invasion of northern France (Overlord) during the Second World War. Gambit involved two X class submarines (British midget submarines) marking the ends of the Anglo-Canadian invasion beaches. Using navigation lights and flags, the submarines indicated the western and eastern limits of Sword and Juno.
X20 and X23 arrived in position on 4 June and due to the delay caused by bad weather, remained in position until 4:30 a.m. on 6 June (D-Day) when they surfaced, erected the navigational aids, an 18 ft (5.5 m) telescopic mast with a light shining to seaward, a radio beacon and echo sounder, tapping out a message for the minelayers approaching Sword and Juno.
A similar operation had been offered to the US landing forces to mark their beaches but this was declined.
The submarines were at some risk of damage due to friendly fire and to avoid this, Lieutenant George Honour the captain of X23 flew a White Ensign of the size more normally used by capital ships.