tv Aftermath of D- Day Invasion CSPAN August 14, 2014 11:02am-12:04pm EDT
the prison. they were there because they ha unpopular political beliefs, o they had black panther books, they had, you know, a picture -- appeared in a picture with a gang member.ne you i would say people belief in human rights and the judicial process, and this is something we need to look at. we had more people in solitary confinement and more people in prison than any country in the world. similarly from me when i first got out one of the most e difficult things in my recovery is really not understanding what happened to me all those months. what happened to my brain. solitary confinement, there are scientific studies that have shown that just two or three shys your brain waves shift towards stuperow or delirium. he was in 110 days.
the u.n. 15 days can call ent constant damage.damage so i work with solitary watch now, and i collect written histories and stories of peopleh that are living in solitary s confinement. i have in depth letter correspondences and i visit them in prison, intu people on the r outside, and some of the storie that ivi told you of how i stay human, how i resisted, how i kept myself alive, thavrn i write to have these incredible stories. the suicide rate is 50% higher s a lot of people give up. prlot of people find no reason to keep fighting.ry the ones that do have incredible stories to tell, p and so i wan to bring them out and publish an i'thology and am also writing a
play about some of the characters called "opening the box." >> i, too, want to say thank you. i want to -- try to make something good out of this experience. i'm traveling with a good of i f california. eigh of whom are foreign nationals, and so they were very interested to hear your story. i'mwe curious to know what thisy experience did for each of you in terms of your relationship with your god. >> thank you for asking that question. it's a profound question.tion it's one. that while i was in tt prison had radical changes in m, relationship with god.
i went from being a hievous mischieviously kicked out of school kind of jew to an one, and then i went from an observant one back to ai just secular guy, and i really took on god most during od's mos solitary, and it wasn't that i let -- well, i took on god and i took on -- i didn't take on god. i opened up to god, but because i needed something to -- i needed something beyond me. i needed some way to relate to the world beyond my little cubic, like, area the size of wt thishe platform where i was livv the whole time. it
i like the ritual, and i stopped observing the sabbath strictly and i stopped keeping kosher, thingsd keepinoing thesie in prison because i realized, you know, i don't -- i don't sort of take the bible as the sort of literal thing. i guess i feel stronger in the belief that there are forces that are unknown to us, or barely knowable and definitely unable to be spoken about that are around us. >> this isn't nearly as deep a question, but it is a serious question. you guys are all obviously veryt intelligent people, an id you h to have known where you were hiking was near iran and iran al was especially unfriendly to
americans.known did you not have a map, or, like, any sense of how far you had gone? i mean -- >> no map. to no map. we were walking, and i remember seeing -- >>p but beforehand, i mean, obviously -- >> yeah,f no. i remember we were in solamania. i remember seeing it on the map, the town. it was like on the eastern parto ofn iran, but it's not like -- iraq, but it's not, like, on the border. some people said, you know, go t to this's waterfall. i remember thinking, well, we are near the eastern side, and at one point during hiking and this is like one of the thoughts that plagued me in solitary confinement that i remember ing mentioning is, oh, we're heading to iran. plagu totally without any notion that we were, like, near it, but just feeling like, well, we're heading east and we're kind of, like, near the east, and then we kind of talked -- no. we talked about it for a momente no, it's probably, like, a far t big way. way more miles than we could
hike in a day or week, and so wh were very surprised when we saw that. >> it's one of those things like when something really terrible happens to you, of course we all went over it 10,000 times.n if we had taken a little less f time eating breakfast and spentt more time at the internet cafe and printed out the map, if the internet hadn't gone down. you know, a million things thei contributed tont what happened, but mostly our guards were down because we were in a safe part of the middle east.llio we both traveled in more to dangerous parts, and we were um goingos by word of mouth. >> i'm sure you guys are told this often, but you're very brave for relive this over and over again. >> those are the kind of comments we will allow you to o say. ]laughing >> i have questions, sort of a two-part question, but related on your perspective of the media that you were watching while you were there because you mentionet that you had a television.ive of i don't know if you had ia a newspapers or not, but you had
this international campaign going at home. did you see the news that was ia being said about you from united states, or were youio seeing mostly iranian or persian media, and with that question, were yor seeing skewed information?me what was your complete perspective on what was being d said about you? >> the news was absolutely absurd. i mean, it was like -- some abt of, you know, there's an english language ticker that was always on, and there were times that it said israel on an commits the most crimes in the n entire world or the earthquake in haiti was caused by the united states exploding a nuclear weapon underground. f oding ff that's totally of the wall. we didn't get a lot of information about our case on the news.like we mostly get it from letters s. from family, but every once in a while something would come up, o and it was -- you know, it was t like state tv. f it wasn't satellite. ev it wasn't even press tv, if youd
have seen that. it was a lot worse than that. s but sometimes there would be a story from the outside, like but cnn, that would be spliced in. actually the first time we got a television, the day that we got a tv, we turned it on, and there was christian amanpour on tv and pictures of us in the background, and it was this rist crazy feeling because it felt like those kind of shows when o. it's, like, some kid that went missing and died. it was like i was watching myself as a memory, you know? but, youwe know, we did get this like, you know, that one of the three americans -- or three american spies to be tried separately. that made us think, oh, talk ad nauseun about who would go nk first. sarah was out.m we would get snippets like that hat that we would obsess about.tel
>> let me be clear.news we didn't get that channel. it was like a 20 second clip. >> they weren't iranians and guards beyond the prisoners. they weren't watching the american media? >> i mean, some of them watched -- a lot of them would r watch bbc on satellite.'t watch satellite is illegal, but everyone has it, and they had it. they told us they had it in thet prison. >> pretty much every prisonerol that gave me information from the outside, it was from bbc. a lot of iran wrans have illegac satellites in urban centers, so they watch bbc religiously.ranin >> oh, there was one -- a lot ov the news that the way we were trying to figure out what was going on in the world was llite because we would have to -- the news that we would see would be a reaction to western media sto usually, and they wouldn't giveo what they were reacting to, so we were trying to figure out what the tea party was through g
the iranian reaction or the arab spring, you know. i remember when osama bin laden was killed. there was a lot of conflicting narratives that would happen. in that example there was -- they said that, you know, that r they had a lot of people in pakistan that were angry that the u.s. had intervened and killed osama bin laden.y, then the next day -- >> the newscaster was just, like, osama bin laden has been killed, and he has been dumped in the ocean, and that is nothing to do with islamic sama burial rights, so we realized nh isat there was some -- that there was some media, western media, saying that they threw him in the ocean because -- within 24 hours. t >> then there would be the pictures they would show. there was one picture they would show of him after he was killedd it was probably -- they would m
kind of were casting doubt on id being him.ia there's kind of like the anger at the u.s. killing him, but then, you know, that it was a it conspiracy, and he was alive atl the same time. >> yeah.ik u >> the media was wild. was >> we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going onn in the world, andg really had ns idea. >> ig ,on too, want to thank yor your courage in recounting your stories. especially as an ourag iranian-american jewish e woman. i want to thank you for shedding foght on some of the horrific experiences that are lived day to day in the prisons. two questions. one serious and one lighter ne o question. thank you for sharing your experiencese li with sarah and the gentleman who declared himself as al qaeda.
you know, whatever you can telld mi about them. then on a lighter note, are your still hiking? [l the other -- some of the otherau women that i met were - there are still four -- the four women leaders are still there and are being prisoned. once we were going to the -- and that's a religious faith in iran that is persecuted heavily. we were lined up and weren't supposed to look at each other, and the woman behind me started to rub my back when the guards weren't looking, and she told me her name, and told me she was bahi, and i learned more about her. even though we were psychologically tortured through
solitary confinement, interrogation, we knew -- it nnt started to dawn on us as thingse t we had a certainey we power that they couldn't physically hurt us because we were valuable to them and that they were going to eventually cash us in and they didn't wanty to look too horribly cruel. they wanted to have a happy ending. that's something that was a difficult thing and also its gr us power to stand up.d of in the beginning i would just cry and plead for anything frome the guards for anothera minute m their time or attention and towards the end i realized the guards really couldn't mess with me that much. there was one guard that told m i couldn't go out to see shane orr an josh in the open air cel. and i was yelling at her and arguing, and she slapped me, and i just reached up and slapped pt her back, and it kind of ut level of d a certain respect. not hard, you know, but thi established a certain level of respect between us, and we became the closeston't i think o can become to friends.r i don't think you can be a
friend when there's that kind of power dynamic where one person is locking you in ade cage evere night, but i used to give her shoulder rubs. she had four kids.. she was a working class woman, and i honestly told her i would miss her and meant it when i left. >> about people who are there who was detained after our release, so he is not bahi or n. anything, but there are other you e, and just to let know -- like our lawyer was detained after we were released, and he was -- when he tried to e leave the country, he was ym stripped of his passport. now he can't really practice anymore, and that was just for defending us. the tactics continue.ke >> you guys are still -- ne >> i figure shane would take that.ere t >> i know.we whenever there's time. >> yeah.- no, it was weird to find out ame that we were -- that we were
called hikers. so in prison that was our name. it's not like something i really i ever identified with before.kind i remember being out with her brother in colorado on a hike, t and i realized -- i kind of wanted to turn away from that -- identity. i didn't want to be -- and i realized i either have to kind e of -- i hike a lot. you know, i still do. a like to hike. i have to either do it in secreg or own it, and maybe it can be something between, i don't knowo not be ain hiker but still be allowed to hike.l >> keep on going.hile y >> i know that your family and friends really missed you and n supportedan you a lot while you
were in iran and sent you letters and cards and pictures h multipleo times.ens i just wanted to know how often you actually got these letters,u and were they sensored? and books and the like?i did you get them in piles? did you never get them? what was that experience like? >> yesterday -- i'll just start. yesterday we spoke at a different venue, and i saw somebody who wrote a letter to me, and she wrote it, and i gott it. i remember the day i got it. i can tell you exactly what was on it. it was like -- i could do that for the other 50 letters i got that time. those were the first batch of ei letters, and it took two monthsh to get them. when i got them, it was like i was shaking the letters at the l sky. i was reading them.rl i was laughing.at i was crying. f it was like the world busted aft open.
that was from friends and family and extended family. after that they got down it was only from immediate family, and it wasn't regular. once a month. once every two months. it was hard to ever know. tain uld ask. we would&%hh5a constantly ask, then -- and at a certain point i think it was around a year in i stopped getting letters from myr brother. it was only from my mother and father. was buy were -- my mom writing in her letters that i write you every day, but i m wasn't getting every day's letters, so it was this huge mystery of where they were going and asked the interrogator, anda they always say this is all the letters we get. we don't know. about a year and a half in we started this sort of campaign ot hunger striking, and the first v time we did it, we -- it took five days for the interrogator i
to come, and he -- when he came, he gave us, like, letters from t sarah for the first time.me she had been out for about four months by that point, maybe three months, and sarah for the first time and from my brother t and from shane's sisters, and then we didn't know if they wer, going to, like, keep giving th letters, so we said, look, n we'll -- thank you for' these letters, but just so you know, n every 30 days, if you don't bring a new batch of letters with all of them and no missing letters, we will continue the g. hunger strike. then they took us. the thing just takes so long.r it took us -- because we couldn't write out. then we realized that we never l knew if we were getting all of them, so when we had five ne minutes of phone calls, like, five months later i remember one of us said write on the letter s the nexte letter -- like the last -- the dates of the last two letters you sent.
so once that started happening, we started -- we had a little bit more to say, but that was a the month before we were released and we started getting more letters.but in short, it was a big trauma.ae it was big drama.d made also to say it was our lifeline, and what would happen -- we would go through eo these cycles of -- get the letters and feel this bliss.te everyone, like, cares about us n ande remembers us. then two weeksf later, well, haven't heard from anybody in two grweeks.ology i feel totally forgotten. like the group psychology between us would start going tin down until we could get anothers batch. prisoners that i correspond with now asked the same thing for me to put the g date. universal fear of proffers that a letter is goingu to be taken away and they'll never get it. i will say we have a huge lin industrial duffle bag full of althose letters, and every oncee in a while when i'm feeling dowm
and kind of mopey and i forget to appreciate life and freedom, i'll just, you know, pluck one out and read it.lly d [ applause ] >> i don't think anyone asked.my when did you decide to write a f book, and hower you actually diu it? ito looks like maybe you each took different chunks to nar rate inethe your own voice. you're living in different cities now, and how did you actually want to come together w to write this? we >> we -- i mean, when we decide to write a book together, i n think we all assumed that we o would write it this way.we a there wasn't a pros of figuringe out, you know -- we assumed we s would all write in first personm it's the waye we started it is just said, okay, let's just takl this time period of the first
four months we were in prison ae and write about that.e we just all went off on our own and wrote about it, and we came, back and had a ton of writing, s and we had to, like, put in al order, figure out whose parts are going to go in, and it just took forever. it was really difficult.hen we kind of did little chunks and write and come back and put it in chronology, and then just edit intensively, you know, each ther other's work to transition and do all that stuff. it was -- there was probably six months of just editing. >> i look forward to reading ita it just came out.or i'm sure it will be very profi successful. do you have plans to do more with it as a continuation or, like, use the profits for
special program or -- in >> whatever.e no plans as of yet, but i will say that in writing the book ani even in thes process to decideo write the memoir, our story is a story about, of course, the mira horror of losing our freedom, d our own captivity, and the d absolute miracle of getting it back, and it's also about all id the people that didn't get it ar back, the people that we had to leave behind. i had a friend in prison that so was thi executed after i left, so this story is not just our o story. it's many stories, and it's some of those people whose stories are in the book are in this room right now. >> thank you. [ applause ]
>> now a look at american history tv programs. normally seen welcomes here on c-span 3. we begin with military historian john mcmanis on the dealt of the days and weeks following the normandy invasion. then a look at the role of military chaplains during that war. that's followed by the story of how the first air commando group got started. they were used in the allied invasion of burma. tonight on american history tv. americans tell the story of the frontlines in world war ii, including this soldier who remembers his first encounter with a german soldier while fighting in north africa. >> we were fighting on a hill 609 just beyond the pass, and i went up one night to check on my
company men, and while i was there, there were a lot of big, big boulders on top of a mountain. we'll call it a hill with a small mountain, and i heard this kind of scraping noise over my head, and i looked up and a german came down and it went right through the flesh here and took my light field jacket and fell on the ground in front of me. we had been told that the germans were picking the medics off with their snipers, and we had lost six of their medics. they were shooting guys right in the head. so we were given permission -- we were given permission to arm ourselves.
if you killed a medic, then they go down in the line troops, and know that they don't have anyone to take care of them. it's a situation that you really don't want to get into. so this guy fell on the ground in front of me. he got up and came at me with a bayonette, and i reached to catch the end of the gun. he pulled it back, and his feng was almost cut off. the scar is still here. so he pulled back again, and when he did, i was able to get my pistol out and shoot him. i wasn't scared. you react to your training at that kind of situation. i started shake and sweating, and just a weird, weird feeling, you know? i had never killed a person before, and never did after
that. i looked in his pockets to get identification so we could report. both sides would do that. they didn't have records. i found a photograph about a two inch square. there was a picture of him and two young ladies on there in german writing on the back. i found i thought that was later that that was his sister and his girlfriend. i kept that picture, and i still have it someplace, and i used to look at it often to remind me how terrible war is. two young guys out there trying to kill each other in battles. >> more world war ii tonight at 8:00. life on the battlefield. three army veterans recount their d-day experiences and liberation of nazi occupied flans. at 9:10 wives and children of soldiers share memories of war life at home, pearl harbor, d-day, and fdr's death.
at 9:50 rick atkinson on the significance of the allied invasion of the italian campaign to the eventual liberation of europe. here's a great read to add to your summer reading list. c-span's latest book, sundays at 8:00. a collection of stories from some of the nation's most influential people over the past 25 years. >> i was new. and i decided to take it because whether it's an illusion or not, i don't think it is, it helped my concentration. it stopped me being bored, stopped other people being boring to some extent. it would keep me awake and make the evening to go on longer, to prolong the conversation, so enhances the motion. when asked would i do it again, the answer is probably yes. i would quit earlier possibly to get away with the whole thing. easy for me to say, of course.
not very nice to my children. it sounds irresponsible if i say, yeah, i would do all that again to you, but the truth is no. everyone knows. >> so they contain the seeds of their own destruction. manufacture the problems that we saw at the end begin at the very beginning. i spoke already about the attempt to control all institutions and control all parts of the social life and political life. witness you do that, when you trial to control everything, then you create opposition and potential disdense everywhere. if you tell all artists they have to paint the same way, and one artist says i don't want to paint that way, i want to paint another way, you have just made him into a political dissident. >> if you want to subsidyize housing in this country, and we want to talk about it and the pop husband degrees that it's
something we should subsidyize, put it on the balance sheet and make it clear and make it evident and make everybody aware of how much it's costing. but when you deliver it through these third party enterprises, fannie mae and freddie mac, when you deliver the subsidy through a public company with private shareholders and executives who can extract a lot of that subsidy for themselves, that is not a very good way of subsidyizing homeownership. >> christopher hitchins, ann applebom and gretchen morguenson, are a few of the engaging stories in c-span's "sundays at eight" now available at your favorite book seller. in the weeks after the june 6, 1944 d-day invasion of normandy, france, allied troops still face difficult terrain and german fort fictions in towns surrounding the beaches. next, military historian john mcmanis talks about what happened in the days and weeks following the invasion.
this hour-long event was part of the national world war ii museum's commemoration of the 70th an verbsry of d-day in june. >> the focus today is post june 6th when to some extent the hardest work is beginning for the allies. it's years of compromises and everything else. what follows from june 7th onwards is just an absolute bloody slog that ultimately leads deep into germany and the end of hitler's nazi germany. here's where it sort of begins. the aftermath of d tv day in the next five to six days sees this basic situation. you've got the five distinctive
landing beaches. obviously gold -- juneau is sandwiched between them. kahn is the objective and base point for them. to the west, obviously, omaha beach, the americans have carved out space there. utah beach best west of that. to the americans -- that's a primary focus with the american experience, normandy, and a little bit about what that was like. i'll draw in some of the highlights for you. for the americans in the aftermath of d-day, the main objective is to get to karintan so you don't link up the weech heads. so they are linked up as one continuous entity, and a kind of base point from which you will advance and take your other objectives in normandy, and semplly by sort of the accident of geography happens to be the spot where that must happen. karintan is not a big town.
it's about 4,000 people or so in 1944. it's located near very low ground, much of which is flooded or very marshy or rounded. at one time in ûgátcxçnapoleon't had been like an island because frerchl engineers had manipulated the lox and the water and the sea canals nearby in such a way as to almost isolate karintan. it wasn't like that in 1944, but much of the land around them was inundated, and i'm sure many of you know that this was one of the german defenses against the normandy invasion is to flood certain portions of normandy in hopes of foiling airborne landing operations and the like. it's et focus for what wee re-mains in the 101st airborne division in the aftermath of the landings, and, of course, the 101st had been scattered around
from, you know, 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 maxwell taylor, the commanders, putting together some sort of coherent cohesive divisional entity that he can maneuver as distinctive battalions and regiments. it becomes his primary focus from june 12, june 10th through june 12th in 1944.
>> many maps throughout u.s. history. really well done. karintan will be enveloped. the 327th glider incidentry regiment and elements of the 051st parachute regiment will swing around to the right of the city so that will be east of it. the 502nd parachute infantry regiment will take the lead in coming into karatan from the north and swinging around and on their heels will be probably the most famous regiment in the 101st, the 506 parachute regiment including the famous band of brothers. the problem with all of this is that the 327th and the 501st are mainly fighting in marshy ground east of the city. this is a slow and literally difficult slog. for the 502nd the main problem is there's only one way in to karantan from the north. the germans know this. it's -- the causeway is mines, and there are obstacles in there
to prevent american movement. there's also in one instance a german plain that's a long american column of infantry, which is a really unusual experience for americans in norm anned where i. fortunately it's usually the germans that are on the wrong end of an attack. as i mentioned, the obstacles, some of the troops will get hung up dealing with the obstacles, and they're going to be spread out trying to take cover on either side of the embankments above the causeway. this is an extremely difficult situation. there are some sort of farms, distinctive farms just north of the town that eventually some 502nd paratroopers get in there. most notably, a battalion led by lieutenant colonel who is a fascinating figure. he was a 27-year-old west pointer. he was a soldier's soldier. we often associate what shall we say, army language with general
george patent. cole was patent's equal in terms of colorful army language and a colorful personality. cole had this manner of speaking roughly but affectionately to his soldiers. he was a kind of 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 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 also a rather inspirational commander in combat in terms of his courage and his professionalism, so cole had one of the sort of key moments of this push into the northern outskirts of karantan. cole is going to sort of loosely organize what is rare in american -- modern american military history, and that's a bayonet charge. it's a charge against a group of german that is control a farm building and surrounding hedge rose. more on hedge rose in a moment.
and it's basically about 60 to 80 502nd troopers just charging forward with their bayonets 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 drainage ditch, and he just falls straight into it, and he splashed up to here with water, and he has althese guys around him kind of going past him or following him or whatever, and he looks back and says don't follow me, which is sort of the antsy infantry credo. infantry credo says follow me for an infantry officer. cole almost unconsciously goes towards that and says don't follow me into here. he doesn't want everybody falling into the ditch. he works his way out of there. others are working their way straight at the germans. there are literally instances when they will sort of -- they
will bayonet the germans in their stomachs, believe it or not, and they kind of get their foot in the door by overrunning this german position in one of the key spots north of the town. once they get artillery reinforcements, the germans are not able to counter attack and dislodge them. this kind of opens the doorway into karantan for the rest of the 101st airborne division, including most notably, the 506. the 506 will swing around to the left, come at karantan from the south, and then basically take it street by street. now, there were concerns that you've had an entire german parachute regiment, the sixth parachute regiment. turns out they left a rear guard of company in there. this fight is portrayed famously in the band of brothers. once they've taken the town on june 10th, it's to defend it against an approaching german
counter attack by 17 -- coming from the south. >> obviously they understand that if karantan remains under control, omaha beach and utah beach link up and then the americans advance from there. the germans are quite cognizant of the importance of the objective. this fighting in the german counter attack which takes place mainly, like, june 1 19 through 13th 1944 takes place outside of the city limits. not really in the town, but outside in the fields and hedge rose beyond karantan, and this is one of the few instances in the entire northwest europe campaign world war ii that allied leaders are able to receive intelligence, what's called ultra intelligence, the ability to break manufacture the german codes, operational codes, and figure out their intention. general bradley, the sug first army commander, has this ultra
intelligence. he knows what 17 is going to do, and he knows he has tanks available to deal with them. >> from there where do the allies go? they're each dealing -- the two distinct allied forces now, the americans and then their allies from britain, are dealing with different points of resistance, different obstacles. well, the british side, canadian side, as you see closer to kahn there, the most potent adversary you've is the actual german units that are converging on you. some of the most powerful yin et cetera in the german army are
forming around khan to deal with the british and canadians there. that means 12th ss panser. it means the 21st panser. you have pretty good rolling ground around khan. rolling plains. plateaus. farm fields that are right there in the summertime. >> british general montgomery had hoped to have khan on the first day after d-day. he will deny this later in life quite disingenuously, but he hopes to have that. instead, it takes him about a month because they're facing some of the tougher units in the entire german army.
one example, the canadian third division will ultimately end up in a blood feud with the after mentioned 12 ss panser division. fanatical 16, 17, 18-year-old alumni. the hitler youth along side really hardened russian front veterans. there will be the killings of canadian prisoners by 12th ss. most notably in a place called abby, which is just west of khan. it's kind of in the western suburbs of khan. when the ss captures some canadian third division prisoners, initially they shoot them just almost out of hand, out of sorts as they head down on the eastern front at times. eventually they're going to collect them, take them to the abby and one by one execute them at least 25 of them are killed in the garden of the -- and you could even go in this day and age and visit it and see a memorial marker to the canadian ez who were killed there. the canadian third division will take no prisoners from the ss, at least they say, and these two
will basically lock horns throughout much of june and much of july in 1944 and destroy each other. it's 12th ss that ends up really completely destroyed ultimately, but the canadian third division is severely depleated, and one thing about the canadian war effort in world war ii and this was a kind of hangover from world war i. could you get drafted and sent to go fight on the western front and they had taken massive casualties. in world war ii you had to be a volunteer to get sent overseas to fight in a combat unit. you could be drafted to serve and defend canada at home, but you could not necessarily be drafted to go serve in the canadian third division fighting in normandy, so it was difficult for them to replenish their manpower once they were losing people. the british are having some of the same problems, though, obviously they have a draft in which you could serve everywhere. for the americans, their main challenge is the terrain itself. not that the german opposition, you know, should be taken lightly, but the terrain could
do some of the defensive work for the germans in normandy. you are looking here in what's called the bokaj country that's honeycombed with hedge rose. this was from 1944. you'll notice almost like a checkerboard sense of the area, this place, these fields what are the hedge rose? well, most of your hedge rose in normandy are structured thusly. you've 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 in many, many hundreds if not thousands of years. the foliage is extensive. especially in summertime. this is a formidable natural obstacle. the hedge rose had been deliberately cultivated by norman farmers for at least two
millenia dating back to roman times. they had been used to delineate whose field was whose and to have a border area. you can see you probably have deeply rooted trees and foliage and deeply packed earth. the norman soil is very moist, very much the consistency of clay, very adhesive in this sense. it's beautiful, beautiful soil, but obviously it's very formidable. you know, for any attacker who is hoping to deal with it. it's a present day look and to think of it as -- isn't there a kind of claustrophobic affect to this. your visibility is limited. you're in the middle of this kind of green bocage, and you don't sense how thick some of the hedge rose are until you're right upon them, and 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 what the german opposition might be, and you can also sense that any opening in the hedge rose is going to be covered by german weaponry. isn't it? and 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 with, a kind of stunning situation by, you know, early -- by about the second week of june or so. how to deal with this. the germans have learned very quickly how to fortify the various hedge rose, how to make the americans pay dearly, and i also don't want to say that there are no hedge rose in the british sector. there are. the heaviest bocage country is on the american part of normandy. the u.s. army from an operational and command standpoint is not really prepared to deal with these hedge rose. most of the training had focused on getting ashore, and on maneuver warfare. what the u.s. army is going to do well.
maneuver with vehicles, use a lot of firepower, use airpower. all these kinds of things. though there is certainly recognition that the hedge rose exists, you know, at high command levels, the french resistance, of course, has told them all about this. norm abandonee is not a mystical place.xxxxxi many americans, britains and canadians have visited there. you know, so it's not like this is brand new, but there is this kind of disconnect between understanding, yeah, there are hedge rose in normandy, but maybe they're sort of like the hedge rose in britain, which are much more like hedges, and maybe we're going to have to deal with that. you know, as a commander, at the small unit level, platoon company, your people are probably not prepared for this. so the u.s. army is going to have to improvise. initially the performance in the hedge rose for some units is really not good. really problematic. the 90th infantry division is --
one of the regiments had come ashore on d-day at utah beach, and after the fourth division had taken the beach or later in the day, i guess i should say. two of the other regiments will be land, of the other regiments landed and fight in the peninsula. they had been trained as an amphibious unit primarily. their senior leadership was not up to the task. there's going to be a lot of firings. there's going to be 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? improvization. this is a bottom-up kind of thing.
the senior commanders a s are noodling with how do we deal with the hedge 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. and your tanks, what about them? one of the things 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 rege row crouching in a ditch with what's called a pansy faust, in other words, with a with he upon 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 tanks, coming along the side cleaning out the ditches to use the army's uf richl. basic that means kill people. move along the ditches, shoot people, take them prisoner whatever. engineers will sometimes be used
maybe demolition specialists or to deal with mines or sometimes impromptu infantry. it 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 these allied armies. of course it's only to grow from there as you get deeper in france. from an american point of view two-thirds of this whole effort will be american. in terms of the manpower and materiel power. so need shareborg in order 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 or bokaj 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 being very strong unit in reliables. june 18th what that means is the germans are sealed off. sealed off mainly in their perimeter around shareborg and farther to the south. 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 view they are mainly preoccupied with surviving and holding the line. so the focus of the u.s. army's efforts from june 18th all the way through most of the rest of june is to get to sherborg. bradley lines up three u.s. army divisions up in the peninsula and sends them towards sherborg in the second half of june,
1944. you'll have the 9th division on the western coast as you expect. as you expect, already at barneyville. in the middle the 79th infantry division known as the cross of lorraine division. the cross of lorraine division had fought in world war i. it's new combat in world war ii. under general wyche. and one of the things that's interesting about the cross of lorraine division if you've seen many of the photographs from the u.s. army soldiers from the normandy campaign is that in 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 soldiers. 79th had wide netting on their helmets in june 1944, almost to the point you wonder why it's even there, because you're not going to put camouflage ascrim n there or hold any cover.
y 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 combat on d-day and will soon earn a reputation for significant bravery and competence as well. three divisions basically advancing shoulder to shoulder. collectively on the command of 7th corps commander 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. during that battle in 1942, and since that division was known as the tropic lightning division, it earned him the nickname lightning joe. the push for sherborg is through pretty thick bokaj country. the battle is fought more or less as i illustrated a moment
ago with these combined armed efforts. not necessarily a full armored division, you got tanks parcelled out among infantry units in fours or fives. 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 crook as you advanced north. 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 to some extent innovative. u.s. navy is helping sustain the entire beach head regardless whether we're talking about the british or the americans. they're helping 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 morass 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 that lands somewhere in the german or japanese rear area, right? well 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, a great deal of precision 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 a remarkable job in precision fire, not firing too long and why is this difficult to coordinate, not immediately but once stuff happens. think about it. you 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 who is where at any given time and it's hard to coordinate and have communications even in that urban setting. so i view that as somewhat remarkable that they don't up with any sort of disasters on their hands. so pretty quickly the germans find themselves, you know, just
bombarded, outclassed, outfought, kind of building to building, bar to bar, sewer to sew 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 at sherborg. they filled in the docks. destroyed the cranes. they put concrete block ships in there. they had just wrecked every quay you could possible imagine, used demolitions like you wouldn't believe. this is a major job for u.s. army