tv Aftermath of D- Day Invasion CSPAN August 13, 2014 8:00pm-9:02pm EDT
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c-span 3 created by the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable and satellite proprovider much watch us on hd. follow us on twitter. in the weeks after the june 6th, 1944 d-day invasion of normandy france allied troops faced difficult terrain and german fortifications in towns surrounding the beaches. next military historian john macmanus talks about what happened in the days and weeks after.
>> what follows from june 7th on ward is an absolute bloody slog that ultimately leads deep into germany and the end of hitler's nazi germany. here's where it begins. d-day sees this basic situation. you got the five distinctive landing beaches, obviously gold for british, juneau is sandwiched between them. omaha beach americans carved out an enlargement there and west of that utah beach for the americans. that's my primary focus the american experience in normandy and a little bit what that was
like. they need to get up to caratan so they can link up the beaches. utah and normandy need to be linked up and a base point from which you advance and take your other objectives in normandy. caratan by the accidents of geography is the spot where that must happen. it's not a big town. 4,000 people or so in 1944. it's located near, very low ground.
it wasn't like that in 1944. but much of the land around it was inundated and many of you know it was one of the german defenses against the normandy invasion is to flood certain portions of normandy in hopes of foiling airborne operations and the like. caratan is the focus for what remains of the 101st airborne division in the aftermath of the landings. the 101st had been scattered around southward and in about the first three to four days after d-day their fight is a matter of capturing some of the key d-day objectives and then sort of for the commander putting together a coherent, cohesive entity he can maneuver.
he'll approach from the north. he'll take his 327 glider regiment and envelope around to the right of caratan. this is soefg a busy map. but these are some of the better maps you're going to get in terms of accuracy of this phase of the normandy campaign. it comes from the west point atlas which is an online website. i encourage you to check it out. not just world war ii maps but many maps throughout military history. caratan will be enveloped, 327th glider infantry regiment along with the 501st will swing around to the city. the parachute infantry will take the lead in coming in to caratan from the north and on their heels the most famous regiment
including of course famous band of brothers. this is a slow and difficult slog. for the 502 there's only one way in to the karatan. the germans know this. the weighsway is mined and there are obstacles there to prevent american movement. there's also in one instance a german plane that drapes a long column of american infantry which is really an unusual experience for americans in normandy. usually the germans are on a wrong end of an attack. as i mentioned the obstacles. some of these para troopers will get hung up dealing with obstacles and trying to take cover along either side of the
embankments above the causeway. it's an extremely difficult situation. but there are some sort of farms, distinctive farms north of the town and some 502nd para troopers get in there. we often associate, army language with general george patton. cole was sort of patton's equal in terms of colorful army language. a colorful personality. cole had this manner of speaking gruffly but affectionately to his soldiers. he was a larger-than-life commander in terms of leading from the front. he was the kind of person who liked to give his soldiers a hard time, to give them a hard
time and see how they would react. he was unanimous expirational commander in combat in terms of courage and professionalism. cole had one of the key moments of this push into the northern outskirts of kara tan. cole will loosely organize what is rare in american modern military historier and that's a bayonet charge. a bayonet charge against germans who control a farm building and surrounding hedge rows. and basically about 502nd troopers charging forward with their bayonets with open ground with cole leading the way. there's almost an absurdly hummous moment that happens during this incredible assault. cole doesn't see this drainage gully or drainage ditch and falls straight into it and splashed up to here with water
and got all these guys around him. going past him or following him or wherever. he looks back and says continue to follow me. which is the anti-infantry credo. cole almost unconsciously goes against that says continue to follow me into here he done want everybody falling into the ditch. he works his way out of there. others are working straight at the germans. there are instance when they will sort of -- they will bayonet the germans in their stomachs believe it or not and kind of get their foot in the door by over running this german position in one of the key part, north of the town. this opens the doorway into, into kara tan for the rest of the 101th airborne division
place outside of the city limits. outside in the fields and hedge rows beyond kara tan and this is one of the few instances in the entire northwest campaign of world war ii that allied leaders are able to receive intelligence what's called ultraintelligence the ability to break many of the german codes, operational codes and figure out something of their intentions. general bradley the first army commander, the u.s. first army commander that's this ultraintelligence. he knows he has tanks available to deal with them coming from the second armored division. they landed hastily. will enter the karatan fight. they are going to stave off that counter attack allowing two american beach heads to link up. obviously this is important.
this is significant. so from there where do the allies go? well they are each dealing, two distingts audiotape lied force americans and their allies from britain and canada are dealing with different points of resistance. different obstacles. well on the british side and canadian side, closer to canne the most potent adversary you got is the german units converging on you. they are forming around canne to deal with the british and canadians there. that means 12 ss panzer. you got pretty good rolling ground around canne, rolling plain, plateaus, and farm fields that are right there in the summer time, you know, getting close to harvest. good tank country. good roads. the british want canne for the
obvious reason the biggest city in normandy and perfect pivot point to advance out of normandy and inland port to help your logistics to land supplies and people. general montgomery hoped to have that on d-day. but it took them a month because they are facing the toughest you knits in the entire german army. one example the canadian 3rd division will end up in a blood feud with the aforementioned 125th panzer division. there will be the killings of canadian prisoners by 12 ss most notably called abby darden
western suburbs of canne. they shoot them almost out of handout of sorts. eventually they take them to the abby darden and execute them. 25 are killed in the garden and you can go there in this day and age and visit it and see a memorial marker to the canadians that were killed. and destroy each other. 12th ss ends up destroyed ultimately.
in world war ii you had to be a volunteer to be sent to fight in a combat unit. you couldn't be drafted to serve in the canadian 3rd division fighting in normandy so difficult for them to replenish their manpower once they were losing people and british are having the same problems obviously they have a draft where you can serve every where. for the americans, there main challenge is the terrain itself. not that the german opposition should be taken lightly but the terrain can do some of the defensive work for the germans in normandy. you look here at the country that's honey combed with hedge rows. you're looking at an aerial view from 1944. you'll notice almost a checkered board sense of this area, this place, these fields. what are the hedge rows? well, mostly your hedge rows in normandy are structured thusly. you got about a four to
eight-foot embankment, earthen embankment sometimes reinforced with stones or other fencing material but often reinforced with deep and thick roots that date back many, many hundreds if not thousands of years, the foliage is extensive, especially in summer time. this is a formidable natural obstacle. the hedge rows were cultivated by normandy farmers for two millennial. they had been used to delineate whose field was whose and have a border area. you can see, you got deeply rooted treerks foliage, deeply packed earth, the norman soil very moist, very much the consistency of clay. very adhesive in this sense. it's beautiful soil but obviously very formidable.
you know for any attacker who is hoping to dale with it. think of sort of -- isn't there a claustrophobic effect. you often sense just how thick some of these hedge rows are until you're right upon them. it would be difficult to maneuver units even a quarter of a mile away and have any sense what the german opposition would be. you could also sense that any opening in the hedge rows is going to be covered by german weaponry, isn't it. so how are you going to move and take land and maneuver under these circumstances. this is what the u.s. army comes face to face wax kind of stunning situation by, you know, by about the second week of june
or so. this. the germans learned how to fortify the hedge rowst$jerv+[ to make the americans pay dearly. the u.s. army is not really prepared to deal with these hedge rows. most of the training had focused on getting ashore. on maneuver warfare what the u.s. army will do well. maneuver with vehicles, use a lot of fire power, use air power, all these kinds of things. though there is certainly recognition that the hedge rows exist, you know, at high command levels. french resistance, of course, told them all about this. normandy is not a mystical place. many americans and britains and canadians visited there. george patton is a good example. he visited after world war i. this is not brand new but there's this kind of disconnect
between understanding yeah there's hedge rows in normandy but maybe they are hedge rows like in britain which are more like hedges and maybe we have to deal with that. as a commander at the small unit level, platoon company your people are probably not prepared for this. so u.s. army is going to have to pri improvi improvise. the 90th infantry division is an example. the texas national guard. one of the regiments came on shore on d-day after the 4th division took the beach. their senior leadership was not up to the task. a lot of firings. a lot of turmoil.
90th is in this learning curve throughout the weeks of june 1944 and a lot of soldiers lose their lives or get wounded as people figure out how to deal with this. ultimately, i should point out the 90th is going to end up as one of the finest units in the u.s. army in europe but as i mentioned it's a steep learning curve. and there are other units that struggle too, not quite as much as the 90th but it's a problem. so how will they deal with them? improvizati improvization. senior commanders are goodling with how do we deal with thej rows. it's the sergeant and junior officers who are dealing with it on a day-to-day basis and i say the solution to the whole thing is combined arms. certainly the first thing you have to do is create a new opening in the hedge rows. you're not going to go through their opening they decided and get killed. what they are thinking about is we got engineers with tnt and
blow holes that way but you don't have enough engineers or tnt. your infantry can't get through on their own. they don't that have weapons. the tanks. what about them? one of the thing they will start doing is welding prongs on to the front of the u.s. army tampgs in order to punch holes through the hedge rows. now you'll often hear claims oh, it's this guy who does it first, this guy who did it fixes that guy whatever. all of those are debatable because this is going on uniformly across the board. each unit figuring it out on their own kind of thing. it isn't as much a unified kind of approach. i'm giving the general picture that people are improvising. if you punch through a hedge row
there's a good chance there's a german on the other side of the hedge row with a weapon that he can basically punch a hole in your armor and destroy the tank if he's close enough. you also have anti-tank weapons that are dug in things like that. so this is where you need infantry. infantry must be alongside those tanks as they punch through. the tanks will punch through a hedge row like you see there. and then they will figure there must be germans in the ditches or next hedge row line or the field if they are dumb but maybe close by. they will saturate the area with white phosphorous shells. it's a nasty weapon. basically designed to burn through all the way to the bone. when you burn white phosphorous you don't put it out with water it feeds with it more oxygen it makes it worse. only way to stop it is cut off the oxygen supply and that means packing with it mud or something like that which can create
infection. no german soldiers wants these little bits of white phosphorous come down on him, catch his uniform on fire, burn through his skin. that's a deterrent to flush them out of there. saturate them with white phosphorous shells or high explosive shells and infantry willing act as a body guard for tampgs, coming along the side cleaning out the ditches. that means kill people. move along the difference shoot people, take them prisoner whatever. engineers will sometimes be used maybe demolition specialists or to deal with mines or sometimes impromptu infantry. i want varies. u.s. army is going to begin to learn to fight this way in june and july 1944, hedge row to hedge row throughout normandy and still a slow and rather torturous process and casualty intensive but it works because germans don't have enough manpower or fire power to hold off this growing u.s. army.
so that's kind of the overview of how many of these battles have been fought. wubs you have the link up at karatan of omaha and utah beach the main focus for the u.s. army oddly enough is to move westward. shouldn't they move eastward towards germany? true. but they want to take the peninsula first. inland from utah beach to the opposite coast. the american planners believed they must have share bothered, port city you see right at the tip of the peninsula. it is the largest harbor in normandy and consider from a supply point of view the more people you put ashore the more you have to sustain. you need thousands of tons of supplies to sustain had these allied armies. from an american point of view two-thirds of this whole effort will be american.
in terms of the manpower and material power. so, you need the port to help feed your armies. okay. so the germans understand this too and they have fortified it to a great extent. the first push across the peninsula through hedge row country is towards that town called barneyville which you see on the western coast. the 9th infantry division takes barneyville on june 18th, 1944. 9th division, it fought in the mediterranean. more or less a regular army division, had a reputation for f1 osion, had a reputation for combat, nickname called the old reliables. when they take barneyville on june 18th what that means is the germans are sealed off. sealed off mainly in their
perimeter. they may try to attack on the other side of that red line you see there, counter attack but really from a german point of with surviving and holding the line. so the focus of the u.s. army's efforts from jun 18th all the way through most of the rest of june is to get to sherborg. he'll have the 9th division on the western coast as you expect. in the middle the 79th infantry division known as the cross of lorraine division. cross of lorraine division fought in world war i. it's new combat in world war ii. and one of the things that's interesting about the cross of lorraine division during this phase of the normandy campaign
you can recognize the 79th division soldier. in most cases u.s. army soldiers have a very tight pattern netting on their helmets particularly non-airborne sals. 79th had wide netting on their helmets almost to the points you wonder why it's there. when you see this wide netting in any picture you know it's a 79th soldier in the latter half of june, 1944. on the right side or really on the original landing coast near utah beach is the 4th infantry division or ivy division. they assaulted and took utah beach on d-day. this is a regular army unit that was new to d-day and earn a reputation soon for significant bravery and competence as well. three divisions basically advancing shoulder to shoulder. collectively on the command of
jay lawton collins who in my opinion emerge as one of the most competent of all u.s. army commanders in the european theater. he once commanded the 25th division at guadacanal. the push for sherborg is through thick country. the battle is fought with these combined arms efforts. not necessarily a full armored division, you got tanks parcelled out among infantry units in for us and fiurs or fi. the navy is the helping the eastern coast advance. there's very heavy bunkers and
fortification used to defend the coast which are tough nuts to crack. by about june 23rd, 24th, you're approaching the outskirts of sherborg. you have thousands of german soldiers there. is that mishmash group. you have naval people. you got anti-aircraft people. you got german army soldiers. you have supply people. you have administrative types. you got a tiny few tanks but mainly relying if you're the germans upon built in fortifications which is at the center point of the entry outskirts, the sherborg. coastal fortifications. for the crowning assault on sherborg collins will do something quite unusual and innovative. u.s. navy is helping sustain the entire beach head regardless
whether we're talk about the british or americans. helping to sustain it by guarding the beaches where most of the real supplies are being landed still over omaha beach primarily. but you got a lot of powerful ships, cruisers, destroyers, few battle ships that can be useful as close support for any operations. so at sherborg collins will coordinate with his naval colleagues to have a fleet available that features at least two battle ships and they are going to shell the german positions in the harbor, tie down a lot of their gun positions that are designed to fire at ships. but provide some level of close support for the troops of those three u.s. army divisions as they move into the urban morasse of sherborg. from the perspective say you're a gunner aboard usa navy cruiser and asked to shell a hostile shore in support of american
troops, usually amphibious assault troops. most of the time it's no problem, no big deal if you fire too long. you don't want to do that. you want to hit your target. if you fire too long you miss it and end in the german or japan's airfield. this is different. you're now firing in the same direction where your troops are coming from. you don't want to fire long. this requires a great deal precision of gunnery, coordination with collins. so you can imagine here are the army soldiers advancing towards their own navy's guns. what i consider to be remarkable is that there are few, if any friendly fire incidents during this battle. the navy does remarkable job in
precision fire. once stuff happens. think about it. you got squads and platoons that are on this street versus this street versus that street. uneven jagged advance. it's remarkable they don't end up with any sort of disasters on their hands. so pretty quickly the germans find themselves, you know, just bombarded, out classed, out fought, kind of building to building, barn to barn, sewer to sewer. there's orders from hitler to fight to the last man and last cartridge, quote-unquote very hitler rhetoric. he nonetheless will surrender with 20,000 to 30,000 german troops by the end of june 1944. sherborg is taken.
wonderful, right? i have bad news, really. german engineers had demolished the harbor. they made it unusable in the near term. they filled in the docks. destroyed the cranes. they put concrete block ships in there. they had just wrekds every quay you could imagine. this is a major job for u.s. army engineers to rebuild the place. it takes the better part of the summer. sherborg won't be running that much for the allies until about september 1944. by then it's far away from the front lines that are, you know, in eastern france. it's a bit anti-climatic. you wonder where are the supplies coming from then. well of course the most famous answer to that question is
mulberry harbor. basically create your own artificial harbors off the landing beaches. you sing block ships and have ramps and platforms and unload stuff that way. authors in place within about a week or so of the invasion. but a terrible storm hits normandy from june 18th to 20th of 1944. heavily damages the mulberry harbor. the mulberries are overrated in terms of ally supply. they will account for 10%. most of your supplies are being landed on the beaches,
especially omaha beach. landed by oversized lsts which the crews nicknamed long slow target. it often is. not a pretty ship but can move a lot of vehicles. open it up at low tide. unload and wait for the tide to come in and come back out. not how they planned but that's how the majority of supplies will be landed in this campaign in northern europe for quite some time. you have, of course, a unified allied sector as the map shows you and the british are going to get canne on july 7th by destroying i want by air. montgomery will try to pivot from there and advance southeastward in an offensive called operation goodwin which
is disastrous. the american front is more or less stalemated inland from omaha beach and not far from barneyville. for instance, bradley decides to attack on the extreme western flank. as you see it there. to push for a town. now what he wants to do is unhinge that whole western part of the german line that red line that you see there, unhinge that and then that will compromise the entire position, german position in normandy. well, what ends up happening instead is a slow and bloody slog through very marshy ground which is bad for tanks and vehicles so you can't provide much fire support there. bradley gains seven miles of ground in two weeks and suffers 40,000 american casualties. 40,000 in a two week period for seven miles of more or less worthless ground. mush. that's what normandy is devolving too. the weather is not good.
normandy is a very wet climate especially in the summer. rainy and moist. it makes it tough to use your air power all that accurately. of course it's hedge row to hedge row fighting anyway. you're having problems with supply on both sides. it's turning into a kind of a campaign of attrition which is not what really either side wants in a way. so bradley's concept on the heels of this failure is to redouble his efforts to take saint lux. it's not a new objective for the americans. they hoped the have it a lot sooner than this. the reason it's important and you'll notice this, practically every road in normandy leads to the town. it was a market town dating back to ancient times. not a big place but a communication and transportation and market center for norman
culture. hit been invaded many times because it was valuable for these reasons. hit been invade by romans, by kings, by napolonic armies. the germans in 1940. all of those invaders in the old days had wanted to plunder. stuff. domination. power. women. whatever. the americans come in 1944, they don't want any of those things. they want to liberate the town. as they see it. what's supremely ironic and tragic these most behe invaders damage than anybody combined. the force bombed it on d-day. its a crossroads and natural place where germans would go to
counter attack. this creates ruins and kill french civilians who are caught in the middle of this and of course as the push for the town matures into a major ground battle will lead to even more destruction. ultimately leading one u.s. army soldier to say after the battle, with sort of awe and sorrow in his voice we liberated the hell out of this place. it will be the focus point for bradley's army throughout much of july 1944. he'll push forward with three u.s. army divisions, the 35th which is missouri, kansas, nebraska national guard new combat in july, 1944. 2nd infantry division which is the indian head division which leads the day after omaha beach. that takes place at wm 65 right
in the heart of omaha beach and on june 7th, 1944. 2nd division was regular army division. and it took pride in having the largest actual patch in the entire u.s. army. it still exists. and then the other division is the 29th, the blue grade division that carried out the famous assault omaha beach on d-day. a month later if you were in a rifle company in the 29th division and you had been there on d-day you were a real fugitive from the law of averages. the casualties that you knits
take you, oh, probably about an hour, hour and a half, maybe two hours to walk it in regular peace time life. it took eight days to take it for the 29th division. and get into saint lux itself. hedge row to hedge row, fighting against german army para troopers and survivors from the german army's infantry division part of which had been at omaha beach on d-day. this is another battle to extinction. in terrible circumstances sometimes in rain with losses like you wouldn't believe that if you're in a rifle company and
started without 160 companies on july 10th you're probably down to about 15 or 20 by july 18th. you're taking intense casualties but the german is worse off. the road is somewhat intact. engineers have to come in with bulldozers because there's so much rubble and move the rubble aside. the symbol of this american effort is embody in a guy named major thomas howie through the attrition of the battle became a battle lone commander. howie in civilian life had been an english teacher and football coach.
and he was man of great intellect and great sensitivity. anybody who met him tended to like him except his addition commander never the most sensitive individual tended to think he was too nice, too soft and too sense tifb great come baptist leader. he was wrong about that. howie turns out to be beloved by his men and one of the people that really leads the push into saint lux and during one of the last drives he's killed by german shell fire. either mortar or artillery. his body is carried by other soldiers and is placed under a flag what they think is the remains of the church sean put there basically on display as a kind of a symbol of what american youth have done in saint lux. he's known to this day as the major of saint lux, thomas
howie. so with this key objective finally in his hands bradley hopes to kind of pivot out of saint lux and beyond. i mentioned montgomery's goodwood offensive. originally he hoped to coordinate that with a major offensive with bradley pushing southwest out of saint lux and both want to use the air force to carpet bomb the front lines ahead of them. well because of the weather patterns in normandy, the weather was just simply too bad in the american sector to launch this fighting. the americans aren't going to be in a position to push until july 249 and that's several days after the goodwood offensive. this is coming piece meal and allow the germans to react. july 24th, 1944, bradley will launch what's called operation cobra. he's coordinated with the 8th
air force back in england to basically bomb in front of his lines to saturate the gear ran lines primarily the panzer lair division. to create a path of destruction that the germans will not be able to stop approaching combined arms advance. basically three divisions with infantry mounted on tanks. like a mobile task force under general collins to exploit that hopeful breach in the german lines and then, you know, basically create a mobile campaign in normandy. well doesn't quite work out that way. coordination by bradley with the air commanders is not good. ridden with miscommunication. the air commanders had told bradley very clearly though he'll deny this later that they
could not basically bomb ho horizontally to the line. if they do that they will run a gauntlet of anti-aircraft fire all along the german line plus take them forever, hours and hours and hours to do this. they said no we're going to come over vertically straight over the u.s. lines and drop our loads. yeah, right. this is, of course what happens. they come in from that direction. the drops are short. there's loss of life on the u.s. side. ground commanders demonstrated great frustration during the run up to cobra because they took hard won ground and from above they said no you got give up that ground and withdraw 1,000 or 2,000 yards the air force will bomb ahead of you. the ground command says great i have to take that again. even with that they were still
getting bombed by their own air force with dozens of lives lost on july 24th. so bradley has to decide, should i unleash the bombing again on july 25th knowing the danger this time. he decides to go ahead with it. then okay we'll mark it with orange colored smoke which tells us, okay, don't bomb on this side of the orange colored smoke because that's the u.s. lines. so the crew men are briefed do not do that. none of them want to bomb their own troops. what do you think happens on july 25th. here's murphy's law. which way do you think the wind is blowing. towards the u.s. lines. so orange smoke is coming back towards the american lines, there's confusion by at least one or two groups and that's all it takes, they will unload their bombs over the u.s. lines and there will be more friendly fire casualties. ultimately 111 americans killed. many come from the old hickory
division. by july 25th, general hobbs hates the u.s. air force. the 30th division is going to be told we're sorry this happened to you but go ahead and attack. if you ever heard of the great war correspondent ernie pyle he wrote what this was like. so when the troops go forward on july 25th they find the germans are in a good position to resist, unfortunately. some of those fronts line positions haven't been hit that hard. that's the bad news. the good news the rear areas have been really nailed, tanks flipped upside down, communications destroyed, people just destroyed, horse columns destroyed, all this kind of stuff. and so once you get past that hard crust of initial resistance, there is room to maneuver, and collins has to
make this decision there's cratering and we don't know what's ahead of us. should i send the infantry forward and go for the kill. he does so by july 26th and 27th and leads to what you see on the map break through that rectangle that blue rectangle that's been bombed and now is where the germans are really in trouble. now you see a break through in normandy in late july 1944. and the kind of mobile campaign the americans had always wanted. now doesn't mean that it's safe out there. there are powerful german units moving and retreating, trying to get out to avoid encirclements. the 2nd division will be in a road block position and run into a very powerful german armored task force that leads to confused night battle with significant loss of life on both
sides. there's plenty much very furious fighting going on. from a bigger picture poichbt view it's to the american's advantage. the germans are in trouble. on august 1st they activate the famous 3rd army under general george patton, so you have two operational u.s. armies in play now, the first and the third and bradley moves up to be an army group commander of the 12th army in control of all the u.s. ground forces and patton's third army has a reputation for being veriay ar r armored heavy because he likes mobile and mechanized warfare. this is precisely what they will be doing on the western side of the map. basically slash-and-dash. move quickly. just hit the germans hard, get to the rear areas, encircle them. this is what patton's army excels at. they get to avranche which you can see on the map, eventually
they're going to move into brittany. the german army is going to find itself in a very difficult mortal position at this stage and from a conceptual view point, history isn't about memorizing facts or dates, there's a larger analysis or purpose to it all in a sense and what's interesting to me as an american historian is that this u.s. army that you now see in late july, in august 1944 after what's generally known as the breakout from normandy, like you see portrayed on the map there reflects the society that has created it and is sustaining it. at that time, the united states was the most automated society in the world. when you think of world war ii you tend to think of the germans and their vehicles and tanks and blitzkrieg and all that. the german army is moving their supplies with horse-drawn wagons.
they're running their vehicles on ersatz fuel. they're not even in the class of the united states army in this sense. the u.s. army hardly even knows what a horse is anymore by 1944. every vehicles of every tight and description but jeeps and trucks and recovery vehicles and aircraft and all of it is designed for mobile slashing, transportation oriented mechanized maneuver warfare, ground and air so what you have is a fast-hitting fast-moving for force, this is flip side of the air force. the heavy bombers had been asked in operation cobra to do something that was not in their skill set. to bomb a precision target in front of friendly troops. now you're talking about immediate yup bombers a are more accurate, that can fly lower ahead of grown formations to act
as eyes and ears and give them close support and this is precisely what happens. if you're a german column moving on the roads of normandy you will be in trouble and you have nice bodyguards in the sigh above you if you're a ground commander at that point. so throughout the early days of august, 1944, the german position gets worse and worse as you see on the map. they get kind of bent around and now they're endanger of encirclement. so if you're the german commanders you say at this point you might say well, it's time to get out of there. hitler being hitler, he's not going to think that way. he wants to attack. he's giving orders forbidding retreat and he says let's counterattack. so he scrapes together their best remaining armored division in normandy and attacks on august 7 through 12, 1944. the purpose of this is to get all the way to avenue ranch, about ten miles away, and to basically cut off patton and
reverse the whole tide. now certainly it takes the americans off guard and elites furious fighting around more ortain but the operation is a dismal failure. and when it's over it's clear the germans have to get out of normandy or risk losing everything that's left. so in the wake of mortaine the americans are hoping to destroy the german army. patton has had to siphon off formations in brittany which he doesn't want to do but just like cher bourg, they're going to destroy the port cities. but the rest of patton's army will swing around eastward and patton is hoping to swing toward the landing beaches and snap that trap shut and join hands
with the 21st army group, british and canadians coming from the other direction. originally this is the concept for the allies but bradley will tell them to halt and this is a controversial decision in normandy because it's thought of by some historians that allows germans to escape who otherwise might not have. well, regardless of that, you do end up with an encirclement eventually by about august 18, 1944. tens of thousands of germans had escaped, some tanks escaped, vehicles, equipment and the like but the two sides do join hands in a town called shambois. it's not a lunge up of americans an british. it's american and polish. captain laughlin waters from the 90th division is reconning ahead of his unit on that day and
they're under heavy artillery fire and he's taking cover in a ditch, kind of see what's ahead as he's going to have orders to move forward and take the town of shambois and he notices a guy in funny looking uniform walking along the road braving the shell fire. he knows he's not german but he's not sure who he is so he decides to go and talk to him. off polish armored division moving from the other direction and the polish army commander tells water this is the first ever meeting of polish and american soldiers on a battlefield. so the two coordinate to snap trap shut for the germans and they will do so but the germans have tried to attack furiously eastward to get out of there. this part is known as ifalaise gap. the german losses have been
terrible. 25,000 to 50,000 men captured, 10,000 dead in the pocket alone. p it's a concentrated area so you're talking about enormous destruction by allied artillery, allied air, allied ground force s. killing of horses, thousands of horses, blood running in the norman lanes as you saw one of them portrayed earlier in our slide show there. the stench like you wouldn't believe. the allied fighter pilots that are flying above this, when they open their canopies, they're hit with the stench of burning flesh immediately. on the ground, the horror is unspeakable for the germans there. it's humbling enough for the allies and troubling enough for them, you can imagine the germans. that's really the figurative end of the battle of normandy. the germans have lost the better part of two field armies in normandy, that's hundreds of thousands of troops well over a thousand tanks. the allied losses are
significant. the americans lose 126,000 men at normandy. almost all men. killed, wounded, captured, missing. british, canadians and poles 83,000. over 21,000 americans killed in the battle of normandy. paris is liberated on august 25 which is the figurative end to this and from the larger point of view how we interpret the battle of normandy, it's the beginning of the end for germany it's not a turning point. the turning point happened earlier, stalingrad, other places like that. it's the pivot point. after normandy, the germans are not going to win this war. it's just a matter of time. but it also doesn't mean it's over now. there's plenty of hard fighting again so this is the beginning 60 an american military, economic, and political superpower that has now accepted that baton to lead this western allied coalition and in a longer
view it's the beginning of a major american military presence in europe that will remain to this day through nato. it really is a seminal moment in american history. so the battle of normandy it's fair to say is probably the most significant in the entire history of campaign in northwest europe. thank you. [ applause ] >> we have time for two questions for dr. mcmanus. >> dr. mcmanus. we were building up in normandy and slowly grinding the germans down which you see on the map, the 15th army. how long did it take the germans to figure out that maybe normandy was the real invasion and not secondary? >> right. the allies had hoped to deceive the germans about the real
invasion, that the second invasion would be coming at calais later in the summer. i'd say it takes about half that summer for the germans to figure this out. but part of the issue 1 once they have figured it out, it's easier said than done to move elements of that 15th army from calais to normandy because of allied air. so the germans have difficulty maneuvering. and the subsequent invasion does come but it's not as well known. it's the invasion of south france which happens on august 15. this is one of the things i should have mentioned. eisenhower had always envisioned the normandy enseparation as one part of two complementary invasions. he wanted an immediate toll lowup in south france to put measure pressure on the jer germans from both sides. as it turns out, it takes two months for them to invade south france mainly because of the paucity of landing skraft and other shipping. so when the landing happens on august 15, it's at that point in tandem that hitler finally says okay, let's retreat and the germans are more or less kicked out of france in the two weeks
after that. but it takes them just to more specifically answer your question it takes them about half the summer to figure out there isn't another invasion coming at calais. >> dr. mcmanus, this question concerns the german high command and hitler on the strategy of committing the armored divisions. by the second or third day after d-day when hitler literally woke up and figuratively woke up and saw that was the invasion he then committed the reserves. rommel said "it's too late." what is your take on that? what could have happened? >> my take, again, this is purely my personal opinion. i think rommel's concept was wrong and proven wrong. the reason i think that is partially what happened earlier in the war. that when the germans had moved armor near the allies landing beaches that had a