tv Aftermath of D- Day Invasion CSPAN August 13, 2014 10:55pm-11:58pm EDT
feet. can you describe that? >> well, first i can tell you it was in my opinion the scariest time of the whole mission. you're 9,000 feet in the middle of a very active warm front and lots of lightning and rain and so forth. looking the down at the black hole in the bottom of the airplane wondering what you were going to do after you bail out, what you're going to hit because you couldn't see the ground. it was at night. when he said we're going to have to bail out, paul leonard, the crew chief was in the back all by himself, he went out first.
he was followed by fred bremmer the bombadeer and myself. >> i was wondering what it was like on base just day to day when you weren't out on missions? >> are you talking about for the air commandos there? >> yeah. >> okay. pat, do you want to take that. >> well i'd like to accept it might not come as a surprise to you people that all three of us have hearing aides plugged in our ears. unfortunately the day before i came up here the right one went on the fritz and i sent it in for repair. i don't know what the question was. >> my grandpa always does the same thing. i was wondering what it was like on base day to day when you weren't out on missions. >> what it was like on what.
>> on base day to day when you weren't on missions. >> can you describe what it was like when you weren't flying missions? >> yeah. it was a mad house. our air strip when you think of c 47s and b 25s and the pursuit ships and all the planes taking off from there. you kind of think we have a paved air strip and it wasn't. as as i understood it, it was three rice patties in a row. it was probably the most homogenous group that ever existed in the army as far as i know. there was no differentiation between officers and enlisted men. you all worked together. if something needed to be done everybody chipped in and did it. it was happening all the time. just constantly fixing
airplanes. working on airplanes. fueling airplanes. it was one of the neatest times of my life or neatest. >> we should point out that everybody ate together. one time the general saw these enlisted member and officers sitting together and nobody saluting and he said what in the world. it's all we got. if you prefer to eat outside we can set you up a table. he did. and they did. he ate outside. >> i think we got time for two more questions. one here and one here and then we will have to shut it off. all three. it's been super seeded. the three of you. let's go to you. >> question for dick cole and a lot of people may not know there are famous reunions every year since the war of the doolittle
raiders who have a big famous reunion each year and a famous bottle of conyak that general doolittle purchased at the end of the war and was supposed to be drunk by the very few remaining members of the raid. did you make it to the reunion this year and was the conyac opened and sipped. >> yes. it was finally opened but they were kind of chinsy with it. [ applause ] >> the bottle was going to stay with the gobblets at the air force museum. >> that conyac 1896, hso of
course they were stingy with it. >> how much resistance did you get from the japanese in burma? >> actually, i don't remember. we were able to operate for several times without any bother. >> i can truthfully say they shot at us. >> they were at broad way this clearing for about a week before the japanese finally discovered where they were and bombed them. they also sent in japanese land
troops infantry and they surrounded it and so almost every night there would be a fire fight. they set up a strong hold at broadway and just -- it's kind of hard to believe but they got used to the harassment and lived with it. they stayed there while they were surrounded by the japanese. >> yes, sir. last question. >> i want to direct this question to dick cole. i know we're covering a lot of time when you were on the raid with doolittle but what would be one of the most memorable moments that you remember in that raid, please. >> i haven't been asked that question before. the most memorable thing i can remember was when my parachute opened.
[ applause ] i was awful glad it did. >> thank you dick. [ applause ] >> okay. so that's it. >> you're watching american history tv in prime time. we're taking the opportunity while congress is on break to show you programs normally seen weekends here on cspan 3. coming up, the troubles allied troops faced off the norm andy invasion. that's followed by a look at the role chaplains played in world war ii and how air commandos got started as project 9 in the allied invasion force in burma.
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cspan 3 created by the cable industry and funded by your local satellite or cable provider. in the weeks after the 1946 invasion of normandy france allied troops still faced difficult terrain in the towns surrounding the beaches. next military historian talks about what happened in the days and weeks following the invasion. this hour long event was part of the national world war ii's k m commemoration of the 70th anniversary in june. >> the focus today is post june 6th when to some extent. the hardest work is beginning for the allies getting sure, obviously is a monumental effort that requires years of planning and years of compromises in
politics and whatever else. what follows is just an absolute bloody slog that ultimately leads deep into germany and the end of hitler's nazi germany here is where it begins. the aftermath of d-day in the next 5 five to six days sees th basic situation. you've got the five distinctive landing beaches, juno is sandwiched between them. to the west omaha beach and obviously to the west of that utah beach. for the americans that will be my primary focus today is sort of the american experience in normandy and a little bit about what that was like. i will draw on some of the highlights for you. for the americans in the aftermath of d-day, the main objective is to get to karenten
so they can link up the two distinctive beach heads. you're really not going to do much in normandy until omaha and utah beaches are linked up as one continuous entity and a base point from which you will advance and take your other objectives in normany. and karenten by the accident of geography happened to be the spot where that must happen. it's not a big town. it is about 4,000 people. it's located near mid-ground. much is flooded or marshy around it. in napoleon's day, it had been almost like an island because french everyoningineers had mand the locks and water and sea canals near by in such a way as to almost isolate it. it wasn't like that in 1944 but
much of the land around it was inundated. i'm sure many of you know this was one of the defenses against the normandy invasion was to flood portions in hopes of soiling air born operations and the like. it was the focus of what remains in the air born division and the landings. of course the 101st had been scattered around southward and in about the first three to four days after d-day they are fight is a matter of capturing some of the key d-day objectives and then sort of for the division commander putting together some sort of coherent, cohesive divisional entity that he can maneuver his distinctive battalions and regiments. it becomes his primary focus from june 10th through june twelfth in 1944. here is how he will do it.
he will approach from the north. he will take his 327th glider regiment and indevelgo to the r karenton. this is one of the better maps you will get in terms of accuracy. it comes from the west point atlas which is an online web site i highly encourage you to check it out for many maps throughout military history. really well done. so it will be enveloped. the 327th regiment will swing around to the right of the city. so that would be east of it. the 502 parachute regiment will come in from the north and swinging around and on their heels will be probably the most famous regiment, the 506 pa
parachupair parachute including the famous band of brothers. the problem is the 327th and 501 are fighting in marshy ground. this is a slow and difficult slog. for the 502, the main problem is there's only one way into there from the north over the marshy ground. the germans know this. the cause way is mined. t there are obstacles there to prevent american movement. there's a german plain that strips a long column of american infantr infantry. this is a really strange experience for americans. it is usually the germans who are on the wrong end of a strafing attack. this is an extremely difficult
situation. there are some sort of farms, distinctive farms just north of the town. eventually some 502 paratroopers get in there most notably a battalion led by lieutenant robert cole. he was a west pointer and a soldier's soldier. we often associate army language with general george patton. cole was sort of patton's equal in terms of colorful army language and a colorful personality. cole had this manner of speaking gruffly but afictifectionately 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 you know, to kind of test them in that sense to give them a hard time and see how they would react to his rather unique sense of humor. he was a gather inspirational
commander in combat in terms of courage and proif heifessionali. cole had one of the key moments. he is going to loosely organize what is rare in american -- modern military history and that's a bayonet charge against a group of germans who control a farm building and surrounding hedge rows. more on hedge rows in a moment. it's basically about 60 to 80, 502 troopers charging forward with their bayonets mostly over open ground with cole leading the way with a pistol. there's an absurdly humorous moment that happens during this incredible assault. cole doesn't see this drainage gully or ditch. he falls straight into it. he's splashed up to here with water and he's got all of these guys around him going past him or following him or whatever.
he looks back and says don't follow me. which is sort of the anti-infantry credo. at ford benning, they say follow me. he consciously goes against that. don't follow me into the ditch. he works his way out of there. others are working their way straight at the germans. there are literally instances where they would bayonet the germans in their stomachs believe it or not. they kind of get their foot in the door by overrunning the german position in one of the key spots north of the town. once they get artillery enforcements, the germans are not able to counter attack and dislodge them and this opens the door way into carentan for the rest of the 101 air born division most notably the 506.
they swing around from the left and come at karentan from the south. it turns out they left a rear guard of a company in there. this fight is portrayed quite famously in the series band of brothers and portrayed very well. once they've taken the city it was to defend it against an approaching counter attack coming from the south. why do the germans want it back? because they obviously understand that if karentan remains under american control everyone will advance before there. this fighting in the german counter attack which takes place june eleventh through 13th, 1944 takes place outside the city
limits, outside of the fields and hedge rows. this is one of the few instances in the entire northwest europe campaign of world war ii that allied leaders are able to receive intelligence of what is called ultraintelligence. the ability to break many of the german operational codes and figure out something of their intentions. general bradley, the first army commander, the u.s. first army commander has this ultraintelligence. he knows what they are going to do and he has tanks to deal with them. they will enter the fight alongside the paratroopers who are very lightly armed to deal with tanks and personnel carriers. they will stave off that counter attack successfully by june 12th and 13th, allowing the two american beach heads to link up. obviously this is important. from there where do the allies
go? well they are each dealing -- the two distinct allied forces, the americans and allies from britain and canada are dealing with different points of resistance -- different obstacles. on the british side and canadian side, the most potent adversary you got is the actual german units which are converging on you. some of the most powerful points in the german armories are formi forming, you've got pretty good rolling ground around kaun. rolling planes and plateaus and farm fields that are right there in the summer time getting close to harvest. it's good tank country. there are good roads around there. the british want it for the very obvious reason it's the biggest city in normandy.
it's also an inland port to help your logistics to land supplies and people and whatever else. general montgomery had hoped to have kaun on the first day. after d-day he will deny this later in life. instead it takes them about a month because they are facing some of the toughest units in the entire german army. one example, the canadian third division will end up in a blood feud with the hitler youth division alongside really hardened russian front veterans. there will be the killings of canadian prisoners by twelfth ss just west of kaun in the western suburbs of kaun. when they capture some canadian
third division prisoners. initially they shoot them out of hand. out of shorts as they head down on the eastern front. eventually they will collect them and one by one execute them at least 25 of them are killed in the garden. you can even go there in this day in age and visit it and see a memorial marker to the canadians who were killed there. they will take no prisoners from the ss at least they will say and these two will lock horns throughout much of june and july of 1944 and destroy each other. it's twelfth ss which is destroyed ultimately and the canadian division is severely depleted. one thing about the canadian efforts in world war ii. in world war i you could get drafted and sent to the front and take massive casualties.
in world war ii you could not necessarily be drafted to go serve in the canadian third division fighting in normandy. it was difficult for them to replenish their man power once they were losing people. the british were having the same problems but obviously they are having a draft where they could serve anywhere. for the americans, their main challenge is the terrain itself not that the german opposition should be taken lightly but the terrain can do some of the defense work for the germans in nor norman normandy. you're looking at an aerial view point from 1944. you notice a checkered board sense of this area, the fields, what are the hedge rows? well, it's mostly your hedge rows in normandy are structured thusly. you have got a four to eight
foot erj arthen embankment with roots that date back many of thousands of years. the foliage is thick. they had been deliberately culticult culti cultiveated by farmered dating back to roman times to delineate whose field was whose. you can see you probably got deep-rooted trees and foliage and deeply packed earth. norman soil is very moist. very much the consistency of clay. very adhesive in this sense. it is beautiful, beautiful soil but obviously it's very formidable for any attackers hoping to deal with it. this is kind of a person day
look at how confining this would be. think of the sort -- isn't there a kind of clafteclafterphobic t. you don't often sense just how thick some of these hedge rows are until you're right upon them. in this kind of circumstance you can imagine it would be difficult to manipulate and maneuver units to know what's going on even a quarter of a mile away and to have any kind of sense of what the german opposition might be and you can 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 na face-to-face with. a stunning situation by about the second week of june or so. how to deal with this -- the
germans have learned how to fortify the various hedge rows and make the americans pay dearly. the u.s. army from an operational and command standpoint is not really prepared to deal with these hedge rows. most of the training had focused on getting ashore on maneuver warfare. maneuver with vehicles. use a lot of fire power. use air power. all of these kind of things. though there's recognition that they exist at high command levels, the french resistance has told them all about this. normandy is not a mystical place. many americans and canadians had visited there. patton visited there after world war i and thereafter. it's not like this is brand new but there is this disconnect between understanding there are
hedge rows in normandy but maybe they are like the rhedge rows i britain which is more like hedges. as a commander at the small unit level, platoon, your people are probably not prepared for this. u.s. army is going to have to improvise. initially, the performance in the hedge rows for some units is really not good. really problematic the 90th infantly division. one of the regiments had come ashore on d-day after the 4th division had taken the beach or later in the day. two of the other regiments will be landed. they are going to fight, you know in the peninsula. they had been trained as an amphibious unit primarily. their senior leadership is not really up to this task. there will be a lot of firings as the 90th will be 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. as i mention, it's a steep learning curve. there are other units that struggled too not quite as much as the 90th but it's aproblem. how will they deal with them. this is a bottom up kind of thing. the senior commanders are noodling on this idea. it's really the sergeants and junior officer who's are dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. 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 the opening that they have presided and get killed. how do you create that new opening. what they are thinking about first is we got everyoningineer
you don't have enough tnt. your tanks, what about them? well, one of the things they are going to start doing is welding prongs onto the front of united states army tanks in order to punch holes through the hedge rows. now, you will often hear claims oh, it's this guy who does it first. this guy who did it first. that guy, whatever. all of those are debatable because this is going on uniformally across the board. each unit figuring it out on their own kind of thing. it isn't as much a unified approach. so i'm giving you the general picture of the fact people are improvising and figuring out we will punch holes with tanks but the tanks will be vulnerable on their own. if you send a tank to punch through the hedge row it's very good possibility there will be a
german crouching with an anti-tank 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 dug in and things like that. this is where you need the infant infantry. infantry must be right alongside the tafrnks as they punk throuc. they figure there must be germans in the ditches. they will saturate the area with white phosphorous shells basically designed to burn all the way to the bone. when you're burned the ohm way to stop it is cut off the oxygen supply which means packing it with mud which can create
infection. no german soldier wants bits of white phosphorous to come down on him and burn through their skin. so saturate them with white phosphorous or high explosive shells and the infantry will act as a bodyguard and move along the ditches and shoot people and take them prisoner. engineers would sometimes be used as demolition specialists. it just kind of varies but the u.s. army will begin to fight this way in june and july of 1944 kind of hedge row to hedge row throughout normandy. it's still a slow and rather tort urous process but it works. especially because the germans don't have enough man power or fire power to hold off this growing u.s. army. so that's kind of overview of how many of these battles will
be fought. once you have this link up of karentan and omaha beach. the main focus for the u.s. army oddly enough is to move west ward. shouldn't they move eastward toward germany. true but they want to take the peninsula first. the american planners believe they must have share border. the port city you see there right at the very tip of the peninsula. it is the largest harbor in normandy. you 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 these allied armies. of course it will only grow from there as you get deeper into france. from an american point of view, about 2/3 of this effort will be
american so you need that port in order to help feed your arnliearn armies. the germans understand this too and they have fortified it to a great extent. in the town of barniville which you see on the western coast of the peninsula. the 9th infantry division takes barniville. it was an interesting unit more or less a regular army division with a reputation for being a very strong unit in combat. a nickname called the old reliables. the 9th is going to be a key player for the u.s. army in normandy. when they take barniville on june 18th, what that means is the germans are now sealed off in the peninsula, mainly in their perimeter farther to the
south. they may try to counter attack but they are mainly preoccupied with surviving and holding line. the focus of the army's efforts from june 18th all the way through mostly the rest of june is to get to shareborg. bradley lines up three u.s. army divisions up in the peninsula and speends them toward there i the second half of 1944. you will have the 9th division on the western coast. in the middle you will have the 79th infantry division, known as cross of lorraine division. they found in world war i. it is new to combat in world war ii. one of the things that's interesting is if you've seen many photographs of u.s. army soldiers from the normandy campaign is that during this phase of the normandy campaign you can instantly recognize a 79th division soldier. in most cases, u.s. army
soldiers have a very tight pattern netting on their h helmets. they had very wide netting. when you see this kind of wide netting in any picture, you will know that's a 79th division soldier probably in the latter half of june of 1944 on the right side or really the original landing coast near utah beach is the fore4th instantly division. this is a regular army new to combat and will soon earn a reputation for significant brafrp bravery and competence as well. three divisions advancing soldier to solder under commander collins who will
emerge as one of the most competent commanders in european theater. he had one commanded the 25th division during the battle of 1942 earning him the nickname lightning joe. >> the push for shareborg is through pretty thick country. the battle is thought with these combined arms efforts. so you've got necessarily a fully armored division but you've got tanks parcelled out among infantry united by m 4s or 5s to help that incremental advance. it is casualty intensive. the navy is helping the eastern coast advance because one of the problems you're running into there if you're the 4th division is very heavy bunkers designed to defend the coast which are
tough nuts to crack as you advance north. by 23rd or 24th, you're approaching the outskirts of shareborg. you have thousands of german soldiers there. you have naval people. you've got anti-aircraft people. german army soldiers and supply people. you have administrative types. you've got a tiny few tanks but you are remaining on build in fortifications you have coastal fortifications and all of this. for the crowning assault on shareborg, collins is going to do something quite unusual and to some extent innovative. the u.s. navy is helping sustain the entire beach head regardless of whether we're talking about the british or americans. they are helping sustain it by helping guard the beaches where
most of the real supplies are being landed still over omaha beach primarily. you've got a lot of powerful ships, cruisers, destroyers, a few battle ships that can be useful as close support for any operations. so at shareborg, 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 is that are designed to fire at ships but provide some level of close support for the troops of these three u.s. army divisions as they move into the urban part of shareborg. from the perspective of a gunner on a crewser and you're asked to shell assault troops. most of the time it's no dig
deal if you fire too long. you don't want to do that. you want to hit your target but if you fire too long all right you miss it but it lands in the german or japanese area. this is different. you are firing in the correction where your troops are coming from so you don't want to fire long. this requires a great deal of precision gunnery and precision koocoordination with collins. here are the army soldiers advancing toward their own navy's guns. so what i consider would be remarkable is that there are few, if any, friendly fire incidents during this battle. the navy does a remarkable job of precision fire and not firing too long and why is this difficult to coordinate? not in the initial part of it, certainly but once stuff happens, think about it.
you've got squads and platoons that are on this street versus this street versus that street, it's an uneven jagged advance. it's hard to know whose where at any given time. it's hard to communicate that and have communications in this urban setting. i view that as remarkable. pretty quickly the germans find themselves, you know, just bomba bombarded. out classed, out fought kind of building to building, bar to bar, sewer to sewer. ordered from hitler to fight till the last man and last cartridge. hitler rhetoric. he nonetheless will surrender with 20,000 to 30,000 german troops by the end of june 1944. wonderful, right? well, i have bad news, really.
germ german engineers have demolished the harbor. they had made it unusable. they had filled in the docks and destroyed the cranes and put concrete block ships in there. they had wrecked every corner you could imagine. they had used demolitions like you wouldn't believe. this is a major job for u.s. army engineers to go in there and try to recover the place and rebuild it. it takes the better place of the summer to do this. shareborg will not be running all that much until september of 1944 by then it's far away from the front lines that are in eastern france. it's a bit anti-climatic. where in the world where the supplies coming from. the answer to that question is mulberry harbors. that's the code name of artificial harbors that the allies have created through
remarkable manufacturing.ically create ramps and you load things that way. a terrible storm hits normandy from june 18th to 20th of 1944 heavily damages the brisht mulberry harbor and destroys the american one for good. if you go to normandy you can see vestiges of mull berries. they are a little bit overrate in terms of ally supply and world war ii and europe. they will account for 10% of it. most of your supplies are just simply being landed on the beaches. especially omaha beach. landed by oversized lsts which
the crews nickname long slow target and it often is. not a pretty ship but can move a lot of vehicles and freight. open it up at low tide as you go to the beach, unload and wait for the tide to come back in and out. not what they planned but how the majority of the supplies will be landed in this point of time. you have a unified allied sector and the british are going to get kaun on july 7th by destroying it by air. they will try to pivot and advance eastward in an offensive called operation goodwood which is disastrous. the american front is more or less stale mated inland from
omaha beach and not that far from barniville. for instance, bradley decides to attack on the extreme western flank as you see it there in the peninsula to push for that town. he wants to 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 german position in germ anany, what happens is a slow and bloody slog through marshy ground which is bad for tanks and vehicles so you can't give much fire support there. bradley gains seven miles in two weeks and suffers 40,000 american casualties in a two week period for seven miles of more or less pointless ground. mush. normandy has a very wet climate
in the summer. rainy and moist. it makes it tough to use your air power accurately. of course it's hedge row to hedge row ne way. it's turning into a campaign of attrition which is not what either side wants in a way. so bradley's concept on the heels of this failure is to redouble his efforts to take santloe. it is not a new objective for the americans. they hoped to have it a lot sooner than this. the reason it's important. you will notice by a glance of the map. practically every road in normany leads through santloe. it is not a big place but kind of a communication and transp t transportation and market center for norman culture. it had been invaded many times because it was valuable for
these reasons. it had been invat ded by romans by kings, by napoleonic armies. you name it. obviously the germans in 1940. all of the invaders in the old days had wanted what invaders throughout history had generally wanted. plunder. stuff. dominati domination, power, women. whatever. you know, the americans come in 1944. they don't want any of these things. they want to liberate the town as they see it. what's supremely ironic and tragic is the most benevolent of invaders do more damage than arguably all the others combined. the allied airforces had bombed them on d-day because it's a natural place the germans would use to attack omaha beach.
this creates rue ins. as it will mature into a ground battle it will lead to more destruction leading one army soldier to say after the battle with sorrow in his voice, we liberated the hell out of this place. the second infantry division which is the indian head division which lands the day after d-day at omaha beach. many of you have seen a famous image of soldiers ascending with vehicles and supplies. they are kind of looking up at the camera at this long column.
the second division was a regular army division. it took pride in having the largest actual patch in the entire army. it still exists. the other division is the 29th. the blue/gray division that carried out the famous assault on omaha beach on d-day. a month later if you were in a ri rifle company and you had been there on d-day, the casualties they took were extensive and the fighting ever since had been costly. 29th division had been replenished. this gives you a closer look at it. you can see where the americans primarily are coming from. you can see the various units in play and the 29th having the lead role.
this is really the thickest of this b country. the 29th division fights in this area from june july 10th to july 18th. it's about a three to four mile area. one historian estimated it would take you probably about an hour to an hour in a half to walk it in regular peace time life. it took eight days to take it. hedge row to hedge row fighting against german paratroopers and survived from the german's 302 infantry division. this is a battle till extinction in terrible circumstances in rain with losses that you wouldn't believe.
in a rifle company not everybody is dead but nonetheless you're taking intense casualties but the jgermans are even worse off. the americans get sanloe on july 19th. it's nothing more than a city of ruins. the problem is engineers have to come in and move the rubble aside. that makes the destruction even worse from the town's point of view of the symbol is embodied in major thomas howie through the attrition of the battle had become a battalion commander. howie in civilian life had been an english teacher and a football coach. he was a man of great intellect and sensitivity. anybody who met him tended to
like him accept his division commander major charles garehart tended to think that howie was too nice. too soft. too sensitive to be a great combat leader. well he was wrong about that. howie turned out to be beloved by his men and one of the people that leads the push into sanloe. during the last drive, he is killed by german shell fire mortar or artillery. his body is carried by other soldiers into sanloe and is placed under a flag. what they think is the remains of sanloe and is put there basically on display as a symbol of what american youth have done in sanloe. he's known to this day as the major of sanloe. thomas howie. with this key objective finally in his hands, bradley hopes to
find of pivot out of sanloe and beyond. i mentioned montgomery's good wood offensive. originally he had hoped to coordinate that with a major offensive by bradley pushing southwest out of sanloe. both want to use the air forces to carpet bomb the front lines ahead of them. because of the weather patterns in normandy, the weather was simply too bad in the american sector to launch this offensive. plus the americans will not be in a position to begin to push until july 24th. that's several days after the good wood offensive. this allows the germans to react to either one of them. so july 24th, 1944, bradley will launch what's called operation cobra. he has coordinated with the 8th airforce back in england to basically bomb in front of his
lines. so saturate the german lines primarily the panser layer division which will be bomb eed heavily by the four engine bombers that the germans will not be able to stop that approaching combined advance of the u.s. army. basically three divisions with infantry mounted on tanks so troops of the big red one for instance, the first infantry division will be mounted on tach tanks from the third arms division to exploit the hopeful breach in the german lines and create a mobile campaign in normandy. it doesn't work out that way. the coordination is not good riveted with miscommunication. the air commanders told bradley though he will deny this later that they could not bomb
horizontally to the american lines. the bombers would ideally come over the german lines and drop their bombs. if they do that they will run a gauntlet of anti-aircraft fire all along the german line there in normandy plus it will take them hours to do this. they said no, we will come over vertically and drop our loads once we're passed the u.s. lines. 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 had demonstrated great frustration during the run up to cobra because they had taken hard one ground and from above they'd been told you got to give up that ground and withdraw about a thousand or 2,000 yards because the airforce is going to bomb ahead of you. we don't want to bomb you. well even with that, they were still getting bombed by their own airforce with dozens of lives lost on july 24th.
so bradley has to decide. this is a tough senior leader decision. should i unleash the bombing again on july 25th, knowing the danger this time. he decides to go ahead with it. this time he said, okay, we're going to mark it with orange colored smoke which tells us don't bomb on this side of the orange color's smoke because this is the u.s. lines. so the crew men are briefed not do that. none of them obviously want to bomb their own troops. what do you think happens on july 25th. here is murphy's law in effect? why where do you think the wind is blowing. there will be more friendly fire casualties. ultimately 111 americans are killed. many come from the 30th infantly division. the old hickery division commanded by fiery leeland hobs.
i can tell you by july 25th, hates the airforce. the 30th division by the way will be hold i'm sorry this happened to you but go ahead and attack. if you've ever heard of the great war correspondent ernie pile he wrote a wonderful account of what this was like to be bombed by his own airforce. he was right there with the 4th division. when the u.s. army troops go forward on july 25th, they find the germans are still in a good position to resist. some of those front line positions haven't been hit that hard. that's the bad news. the good news is the rear areas have been really nailed. tach tanks flipped upside down. communications destroyed. horse columns destroyed. once you get past that hard crust of initial resistance, there is room to maneuver. collins has to make this decision, there's cratering and we don't know what's ahead of us, should i send those task
forces of infantry riding on tanks. should i send them forward and really go for the kill. >> he does so by july 26th and 27th, which leads to a break through, through that blue rectangle and beyond and now it's where the germans are really in trouble. now, you see a break through in normandy in late july, 1934. the kind of mobile campaign the americans had always wanted. it doesn't mean that it's sach out there. there are powerful german units moving and retreating trying to get out to avoid encirclement. roughening into a powerful german army task force which leads to significant loss of life on both sides. so there's plenty of very vurious fighting going on but from a bigger point of view it
is to the american's advantage now. the germans are really in some trouble. on august the 1st, the activate the famous third army so you have two operational u.s. armies in play now. the first and third. bradley moves up to be an army commander and patton's army has a reputation of being heavily armored. this is precisely what they'll 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 punt the ball. they get to do that and eventually -- whoops. they are going to move into britainy. the german army will find itself
in a very difficult position at this stage. from a kind of conceptual view point, this is, i think -- you know, history isn't just about memorizing facts or dates. even military history isn't about that either. there's a larger analysis and purpose to it all. what's interesting to me as an american hihistorian, this u.s. army that you now see in late july of 1944 reflects the creat sustaining it. at that time the u.s. is the most automated society in the world. when you think of world war ii, you think of the germans and tanks. the german army is moving their supplies with horse drawn wagons. they are running many of their vehicles on ersat's fuel. they are 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. everything is vehicles by every type and description not just the famous tanks and trucks and aircraft. all of that is designed for mobile slashing mechanized warfare. what you have is you have a fast hitting fast moving force now with excellent close air support. this is the flip side of the airforce. you know? the heavy bombers had been asked in operation cobra to do something that's not in their skill set to bomb a precision target right in front of friendly troops. now in this instance you're talking about fighter, medium bombers that are more accurate moving ahead of ground formations to act as eyes and ears and to give them close support. this is precisely what happens.
if you're a german column of any type moving on the roads in normandy you're going to be in trouble. you've got nice bodyguards in the sky above you if you're a ground commander at that time. throughout the days of august of 1944, the german position gets worse and worse as you see on the map. they get bent around and now they are in danger of encirclement. if you're the german commanders you might say well it's time owe get out of here. hitler being hitler he's not going to think that way. he wants to attack. he's giving orders forbidding retreat. he scrapes together their best remaining armor divisions in normandy and attacks on august 7th through twelfth, 1934. the purpose of this is to get all the way there, it's about ten mile as way and basically cut off patton and reverse the whole time. certainly it takes the americans
off-guard. it leads to furious fighting for a period of three to four days but it is a dismal failure losing about 1/3rd of its armor and when it's over it's clear the germans have to get out of normandy or risk everything that's left. what the americans are hoping to do is to encircle the remains of that german army and destroy it. patton has had to siphon off formations in brittney which he doesn't want to do. that's the original plan. get the supply ports. well, they are going to have garrisons that are told to fight till the end and destroy the port cities when they have a chance. the rest of patton's army will swing around eastward and he is hoping to swing them toward the landing beaches and snap that shut and join hands with the 21st army grouph